Coffee Break – Round-up of news affecting the food and drink industry

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Picture courtesy of Scotland Food and Drink
  • £3m scheme to strengthen Scottish supply chain
  • More than 5,000 restaurant companies at risk of insolvency
  • UK Food Producers Call for tariff-free access to Single Market
  • Michael O’Hare reveals more on his three Manchester restaurants
  • The Old Bill secures £180k funding to buy building
  • New Newcastle quayside restaurant Dobson and Parnell
  • Scottish scientists build artificial salmon gut

 £3m scheme to strengthen Scottish supply chain

CONNECT Local, Scotland’s local food and drink marketing advisory service, has launched a £3 million scheme to help Scottish food and drink businesses better utilise the local food and drink supply chain.

The funds will build connections between local producers and entrepreneurs, micro-businesses and SMEs by offering specialist advice for enterprises with limited experience of marketing local food and drink. There will also be a specialist programme focusing on seafood, funded by the European Maritime and Fisheries Fund and the Scottish Government. This will be delivered via Seafood Scotland is supported by SAC Consulting (part of Scotland’s Rural College), SAOS and Scotland Food & Drink.

 It is hoped the funding will boost economic growth by unlocking domestic markets within the Scottish food and drink sector, which employs around 116,000 people and has annual turnover of £14.3 billion.

More than 5,000 restaurant companies at risk of insolvency

ACCOUNTANCY firm Moore Stephens believes a total of 5,570 restaurant companies have at least a 30% chance of going insolvent within the next three years.

The firm blames the sharp fall in the pound since the Brexit vote, which has added to the pressure on the sector by increasing the cost of imports for restaurants. “The UK imports 48% of its food and many restaurants rely heavily on imported food and wine,” Moore Stephens said.

insolvency-pictureThe company also pointed to increased popularity of different cuisines and food styles that has led to a spate of new openings leaving others facing insolvency as new entrants and innovations leave the offerings of existing incumbents looking dated.

As well as higher raw material costs, restaurant companies have also seen the cost of labour increase. The government raised the National Living Wage to £7.20 per hour from £6.70 earlier this year and the government has announced that it will raise the National Living Wage to £7.50 per hour in April next year.

Mike Finch, restructuring partner at Moore Stephens, said: “It is unrealistic to expect UK restaurant groups to avoid the impact of the fall in the pound by substituting for UK produce – they are going to face a big hit. Restaurants have to make tough decisions as to how much they try to pass on to consumers; too much and they risk losing business, too little and they lose margin.

“Fluctuations in the foreign exchange markets have hit small and medium sized restaurant businesses particularly hard as they have tighter financial constraints and are less likely to negotiate long term supply contracts. All this comes at a time when many consumers are likely to be very price conscious.”

UK Food Producers Call for tariff-free access to Single Market

THE largest coalition of food producers in the UK’s history has come together for the first time to call for tariff-free access to the Single Market and continued access to a competent and reliable workforce in order for British food and farming to flourish post-Brexit.

In a letter to the Prime Minister coordinated by the UK’s farming unions, 75 organisations have pledged support for a positive, bold and ambitious vision for the sector post-Brexit. But they also signal that food security, food safety and hygiene, stewardship of the countryside and affordable food is at risk if Ministers fail to deliver continued access to labour and the best possible Single Market access.

british-farmers-563-pThe organisations represent some of the UK’s best known companies, including retailers Sainsbury’s and Morrisons and are worth over £92 billion employing almost a million people.

Food production is the UK’s largest manufacturing sector. The letter argues that a Brexit settlement which recognises the critical role of the UK food chain will demonstrate how Brexit can be beneficial for the UK economy as well as UK food production.

The letter makes clear that Britain’s farmers and food producers stand ready to work with the Government and calls on the Prime Minister to put Britain’s food at the centre of Brexit negotiations.

Commenting on the letter, NFU President Meurig Raymond said: “Brexit creates an enormous opportunity for farming, food production and for Britain. But to deliver this new future, we must secure the best possible access to the Single Market and continued access to a competent and reliable workforce. Getting this right will set the foundations for a successful new British agricultural policy.”

“Agriculture is a litmus-test for the Government’s Brexit negotiations. As the sector most heavily impacted by the referendum outcome, if the Government can make British farming a success post-Brexit then it will be the clearest indication that the country can succeed outside Europe.”

Michael O’Hare reveals more on his three Manchester restaurants

CHEF Michael O’Hare has revealed more details about the three restaurants he is opening with former football star’s Gary Neville and Ryan Giggs.

Named after an Asian fable, The Rabbit In The Moon at the National Football Museum will be more informal than his Leeds restaurant The Man Behind The Curtain.

Picture of chef Michael O hara“I think the building is a fantastic piece of architecture, and I didn’t want to take away from that. It can’t be fluffy curtains and pillows – it’s a glass box. So we mirrored it. There are so many mirrors in there – wall to wall mirror, pretty much. It’s dark, dimly lit,” O’Hare told the Manchester Evening News.

The bar will be separated by a glass wall and all the original recipe drinks – designed by Matt Wiley from Talented Mr Fox in London – will be pre-made each day, to ensure each one is up to O’Hare’s standards.

The other two restaurants are located in The Stock Exchange on Norfolk Street and will also include a boutique hotel.

The Man Who Fell To Earth will be a more formal affair, with an a-la-carte menu set in a grand Parisian ballroom-style restaurant.

The more relaxed of the two is Are Friends Electric, a rooftop restaurant that will feature a kitchen-style service, where diners can sit at the pass and watch chefs plate up.

The Rabbit In The Moon will open with a soft launch in December and a full launch in January. The other two restaurants are yet to be confirmed.

The Old Bill secures £180k funding to buy building

FAMILY owned Italian restaurant The Old Bill in Oldham has received £180,000 funding from Barclays to purchase the premises.

The Old Bill also incorporates The Coal Hole, a purpose-built cocktail bar, as well as the White Rooms Function suite for larger events.

The Old Bill, Oldham Coal HolePaolo Bissolati, director, said: “The Odeon Cinema Complex is due to open shortly providing a great opportunity to attract more clientele. The business is in a great position to grow over the next few years and we are grateful for the continued support of Barclays, who are an integral part of our team.”

New Newcastle quayside restaurant Dobson and Parnell

Dobson and Parnell launched today (6 December 2016) is the brainchild of the city’s Blackfriars restaurant owner.

The restaurant at 21 Queen Street, on the Quayside will specialise in refined British and European cuisine.

dobson-and-parnell-is-opening-on-newcastle-quaysideThe address has long been associated with fine dining in Newcastle. It was the original home of Terry Laybourne’s Michelin-starred 21 Queen Street as well as the popular modern-British restaurant Pan Haggerty.

Head chef Troy Terrington moved to the North East in 2005 and worked as head chef at both Blackfriars Restaurant and Jesmond Dene House. His menus that he plans to re-write every day (depending on the freshest produce he can find) will use ethically-sourced local, seasonal produce direct from nearby farms and markets.

The restaurant will be open six days a week serving lunch and dinner. The Set Menu, to be served on weekday lunchtimes and early evening, will feature dishes such as Pressed wild rabbit, pickles, pumpernickel; Hake smoked clam frumenty pickled lemon, wake; and Pressed shoulder of pork, parsnips, trivet onions, pickled walnuts, and Bitter ‘manjari’ chocolate with Candied clementine to finish at a price of £21 at lunch and £25 at dinner for three courses.

Scottish scientists build artificial salmon gut

SCOTTISH scientists have launched a new project to build an artificial salmon gut to improve the understanding of fish nutrition.

The research will help the aquaculture industry address the challenge of replacing decreasing levels of wild feedstock over the next decade.

The industry has recognised that the reduction in wild fish available as feed will cause a drop in the levels of omega-3 fatty acids found in salmon, leading to a drop in the marketable quality of the fish.

farmed-salmon-overviewhi_225015Using the experimental gut, the researchers will focus on the link between gut microbiota, the bacteria that colonise the intestine, and the development and digestion of salmon. They aim to develop a better understanding of how the microbes can help efficient absorption of novel feeds in salmon.

Led by scientists at the University of Glasgow, the three-year SalmoSim project is being carried out in collaboration with the Marine Institute and University College Cork, the Norwegian food research institute, Nofima, and salmon producers Marine Harvest and Alltech.

Salmon farming and aquaculture is of increasing significance, in terms of economics and food sustainability. In Scotland, Atlantic salmon is now the number one food export.

Nearly 180,000 tonnes of farmed Atlantic salmon was produced in 2014 and the sector provides employment for an estimated 7,000 people. The Scottish Government and industry leaders anticipate as much as a 30% increase in production by 2020.

 

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