Posts in Foodservice News
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.

The pictures changing plates

"Most businesses are embracing our obsession with amateur food photography. Put simply, it’s free publicity. "

From fine dining to street food, most of us are guilty of a cheeky food snap. Just Google food photography and you’ll be lost in pancake stacks, sushi and pasta for hours.  

Apps such as Instagram have had immense impact on how we share food photography and manipulate it. Anyone, no matter how skilled, can capture their own food art in just a few clicks. Bringing food to life on screen has never been easier, with Instagram filters achieving the perfect ‘colour pop’ many strive for.  

Whether you enjoy in-situ food photography or think phones have no place at the dining table, one thing is for certain. It's a driving force for innovation and creativity in the food and drink industry. 

how has this changed our food, plates and restaurant experiences?

Most businesses are embracing our obsession with amateur food photography. Put simply, it’s free publicity. So, both high end chefs and fast food chains have cooked up ways to be increasingly visual, engaging and memorable.  

Think colourful combinations, creative food styling and scientific Blumenthal-esque surprises.


food styling and crockery

Simon Hulstone, chef proprietor, at the Michelin starred Elephant Restaurant in Torquay said: “I think the use of social media has increased the presentation and styles of chefs’ food immensely. Crockery has become a major focus and getting the right crockery to frame a dish is almost as important as what’s on the plate, ultimately though it’s the quality of the photography and camera that decides how good a dish looks on social media, so chefs have really worked out how to promote their skills by taking a semi professional picture.” 


flavour experimentation

Andrew Klimecki, VP design at Steelite International said: “There have been some interesting trends in food fairly recently where traditionally ‘beige’ food types have been given the black treatment: bagels, burgers, hot-dog buns, macarons, croissants – even ice cream. This is being driven by the need for novelty in the hospitality industry to engage and fuel the Instagram generation.”

fast food finds

Fast food joints across the globe are cooking up increasingly creative food, such as Poptata, drizzling bright pink garlic mayo over delicious parmesan fries.  

For Taco Bell’s chefs and food scientists, Instagram is also always front of mind. When the team develop new menus, how products look on Instagram is a key consideration. It takes just a few Instagram complaints (notably, that the cheese isn’t as stringy as portrayed in adverts!) for the social media team to intervene with food preparation reminders. They even track of the most-Instagrammed menu items, and last year relied solely on diners’ Instagram snaps to advertise and build trust in a niche new product, the Naked Chicken Chalupa, setting up launch parties with bright lights and props to encourage photo opportunities and all-important recommendations.   

setting the scene

Ambience is also key. Upserve Restaurant Insider' s report #FoodPorn Instagram Marketing for your Restaurant encourages restaurants to consider lighting, installations, and branding opportunities to make their décor more appealing and memorable for Instagram. Many upscale London restaurants wow diners with immersive interior design, such as Clos Maggiore’s spectacular garden room and Sketch’s opulent and colourful furniture, walls and curtains. Unsurprisingly, they are often recommended as the most Instagrammable foodie spots to visit.  

Clos Maggiore

Sure, foodie photos are nothing new, but the Instagram revolution has undoubtedly given hospitality businesses another tool to boost their operations. Whether this is most useful for promoting new products, interacting with existing diners or getting food in front of new customers, businesses that fully embrace this creative culture of sharing will surely give consumers something to remember.

Pubs: what the future has in store

"The stories of pub closures paints a bleak picture, but the statistics suggest a brighter future."

The Restaurant Show was a great event yet again. There is something slightly mesmerising about watching chefs in full flow, and this was definitely the case during the Craft Guild Chef of the Year competition. It was fantastic to see Chef Kuba Winkowski crowned National Chef of the Year, and watch him receive a hearty congratulations from the runners up.

Away from the competition I had a look at the key themes from this year’s show. Notable mention being the rising popularity of Kombucha, it’s absolutely everywhere! However, what really struck a chord was the news from the dining sector.


Is pub culture dying?

MCA looked into how pubs are performing in the current market compared to restaurants. The stories of pub closures paints a bleak picture, supported by the growing fear that the high street is becoming redundant to the modern shopper with rates, Brexit-induced staff shortages, and rising food costs taking its toll on the dining sector.

However, the statistics paint a healthier picture. Pub turnover is up 2.7%, which shows the end of the decline in the market. Furthermore, visits for the casual dining sector are up by 7% for the year ending June 2018.

7% represents an extra 35 million visits to British casual dining restaurants compared with the previous year.


What changed?

Wet led pubs are the answer, for now (but we will touch more on that later). Drinks-based venues are driving growth within in the market. They are doing this by focussing on quality over quantity, with consumers happy to pay for something more premium.

In order to beat the competition of restaurants, MCA has seen that pubs focussed on being family friendly and good value for money are edging ahead of restaurants, although they still are more successful overall.

MCA research shows that lunch and dinner visits have increased in the younger demographic, which suggest that pubs are adapting to accommodate the next generation’s needs in order to stay current. A key factor in continual growth throughout the market.


How to stay ahead of the curve?

Despite wet led pubs seeing a resurgence in the pub industry, 24% of consumers are trying to consume less alcohol and 5% are cutting alcohol completely.

This shows that the industry is changing, and fast. In order for the growth of pubs in the market to continue, they need to continue to develop as well.


What will be the next innovation?

That is the million dollar question. Almost half (40%) of 25-to-37 year olds prefer ordering food on their phones to table service (according to a report taken out by McCain). Will we see fully tech integrated pubs lead the way in the future? It may not match the feel and décor of an old-school country pub, but in bars and pubs pushing for a younger demographic, this could work well.

What we can see is now that the pub market has turned positive, it shows no sign of slowing down. By 2023 we will see a positive number of pubs compared with what is expected, showing the end of pub closures for the foreseeable future. Great news all round.

Protein: Is there a more powerful word today?


I don’t know what you’re up to while you’re reading this. To be honest, it would be weird if I did. But, if you’re having a bite to eat, some yoghurt for breakfast, a salad at lunch, or a quick snack, take a look at the packaging. There’s one word that’s probably big, bright and bold on the packet: protein.

And that’s no surprise. It’s one of the most powerful words in food today. And importantly, a very profitable word at that.

Over the last few months, we’ve noticed more and more brands, across retail and foodservice, are shouting about the amount of protein in their food. The question is, why? And should you be doing more to shout about the P word?



Protein isn’t new. We all know it’s an integral part of a healthy, balanced diet. But in recent years, more and more people are looking to increase their protein levels, and embark on high-protein diets. 

One part of this is health. As more Protein is key to rebuild muscle after exercise. With healthy eating and a healthy lifestyle more popular than ever, it’s no surprise that protein has become even more vital. Whether it’s to repair muscle or just to keep a diet balanced, people clearly care more about it, and are looking for it in every meal.

But, are people getting their protein fix from food or from something different?



Much like all those protein-powered lifters at your local gym, the supplement market has grown a heck of a lot in the last decade. In 2007, the market was worth £73m in the UK. Last year, that reached £358m[1]. For anyone wondering, that’s close to a 400% increase.

While they are very popular, there are a whole lot of reports looking at the potential health issues of supplements[2]. The jury’s still out on all of this, but one thing’s clear: there’s a lot of profit up for grabs in protein. So it’s no surprise food is trying to grab some of the audience.



The UK has seen a huge increase in demand to satisfy consumers’ protein cravings. To reach this audience, being loud and protein proud on your packaging is a clear tactic. From the 10g somehow squeezed into a snack bar, to the 5g elegantly placed into a smoothie, it’s always a number to shout about.

Away from the shops, get clever with your menus. Highlight how much protein is in each meal, or better yet have a dedicated menu. Healthy eating is a trend that won’t be going anywhere anytime soon, so you’ll get a lot of usage out of those menus.

For a perfect double-header, get your protein profits from plant-based products (try saying that five times quickly). Flexitarians are everywhere, and just like protein sales, that number keeps on growing. People may not want the meat, but they still want to meet their protein daily quota. Plant-based products are the solution.

So, if you’re not shouting about protein yet, now’s the time. This is a trend that’s going nowhere soon. 



Coal drops year: A template for the future of retail?

"The new shopping district is the biggest development in central London for more than 150 years."

Morty & Bob’s is the latest Instafamous restaurant to join Coal Drops Yard when it opens this autumn. It’s part of an already starry line-up of eateries, including Barrafina, Casa Pastor and The Drop, all of which are set to open in the new King’s Cross development on 26th October 2018.

The new shopping district is the biggest development in central London for more than 150 years. It forms part of the King’s Cross regeneration plan which, once complete, will be home to 50 new buildings, 1,900 new homes, 20 new streets, 10 public parks and squares and 26 acres of open space. It’s so beefy it’s even got its own postcode.

With constant news headlines about the death of the high street, is Coal Drops just what the UK retail scene needs? With the aim of becoming a neighbourhood amid an era of generic townscapes, it’s a scheme that – if it proves a success – could provide a template for urban retail for decades to come.

Here’s why.


The mix of sweeping modern curves, concrete and historic architecture designed by hip Heatherwick studio and realised by developer Argent is taking its final shape and is nearly 75% leased. The location of every retail unit has been cleverly determined. Michelin-starred French chef Alain Ducasse’s café and shop, Le Chocolat, is near the entrance, so the smell of warm chocolate wafts along the canal, drawing people in viscerally.


Even the hoardings around the development and its head office are discreetly labelled. It’s the antithesis to Westfield’s near-generic blueprints, which feature mostly indoor shopping spaces.


As well as homes, offices and education (Central Saint Martins is just next door in Granary Square), its village-like layout has plenty of opportunities for outdoor events based around music and culture. Public areas and wow factor brand concept spaces act as a conduit for engaging with young trendsetters and tastemakers that can’t necessarily shop at this stage, but are future spenders.


Like a petri dish for the evolving retail sector, Coal Drops packs in a wide variety of shops, from global names like Samsung and Paul Smith, through to artisanal brands like eyewear label Cubitts, eco-luxe accessories company Lost Property London and cult homewares designer Tom Dixon. Concept-led stores offer everything from pencils and candles up to lighting and furniture. After all, shoppers rarely stick to one price point nowadays.


Several collectives in Lower Stable Street, which comprises smaller units, will be given over to smaller retailers and collectives, many of which will undertake events like product-making workshops with local schools. There’s also specific space for service-based tenants in the grooming and beauty world such as barbershops, beauty salons and a tattoo joint.


With the halo effect of the commercial-institutional heavyweights set to open, Coal Drops could be registering a potential spending power of approximately £1.6bn per year – if it can deliver the concept authentically. With only three months to go, we don’t have to wait long to see if a retail scheme 160 years in the making will succeed where other high streets have failed.