Posts tagged Food
LACA 2018: Our Highlights

"Plant-based food hasn’t just arrived in foodservice, it’s here to stay."

Health, sustainability and plant-based products were the unmissable trends we saw at this year’s LACA Main Event in Birmingham. 

Often we see foodservice trail behind consumer product development. But, it would seem that brands right across foodservice are now doing all they can to create products to meet growing demand from savvier customers, particularly teenagers and secondary students. 


As school meal standards continue to improve, reduced salt and sugar was a key focus for Kraft Heinz, who has launched healthier versions of its beans and tomato ketchup into schools. 

On their stand they had a blind taste test pitting an own-label ketchup against their regular and reduced product. We passed the test with flying colours, proving once and for all that William Murray knows its ketchup.


The global push for greener products and less environmentally-damaging supply chains continues. Quorn’s campaign encouraging kids to eat meals that are as good for them as they are for the planet aligns with the growing number of young people adopting alternative diets in order to reduce their environmental impact. 

 Elsewhere, Young’s was promoting not one but three sustainable fishing accreditations across their products, proving that sustainability and responsible sourcing continue to drive schools’ purchasing choices. 


2018 really has been the year when the vegan diet went mainstream. At LACA you couldn’t look to a stand without seeing the ‘V’ word leading a list of products or featuring as a hero, something that just wouldn’t have been the case just a few years ago. 

Vegan pastries from Délifrance, a new vegan-range from Kerrymaid and an entire stand from the UK’s first entirely vegan football club, the Forest Green Rovers, were just the tip of the iceberg. 

Plant-based food hasn’t just arrived in foodservice, it’s here to stay.

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.