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Colors: Green Color

A staggering 91% of Brits now claim that mealtimes have become an essential family occasion during lockdown, and they’re loving it!

Half of British households (49.2%) confess that family mealtimes were either rare (39%) or never happened (10%) before lockdown according to new research.

The research, conducted by pizza brand Chicago Town, polled 4,227 households across the UK in May 2020 and shows how families have been brought together by the global pandemic; some positive news against the backdrop of worrying times.

As well as eating together at mealtimes, households are playing together too – with family and friends games’ nights, using popular video chat platforms, now high on the agenda.

Over three-quarters (77%) of UK families are now playing games regularly together since lockdown began with 41% dialing-in players to get around social distancing.

Almost a quarter (23%) of families claim gameplay is a totally new pastime for them, admitting to never having played as family previously. And they’re taking part in regular scheduled games’ nights (25%) playing board games, video games or games.

The research also revealed the top 5 most popular lockdown meal choices for a family games night or an evening in front of the TV:

1. Pizza (45%)
2. Chinese (21%)
3. Curry (15%)
4. Pasta (10%)
5. Fish & Chips (9%)

Rachel Bradshaw at Chicago Town said: “It is great to hear that so many families are making the most of mealtimes together since the start of lockdown – a positive takeaway from the restrictions. And what better way to bond than over a gooey, messy pizza and games night!

“We’re delighted, of course, that pizza is at the centre of many of these family occasions and we’re looking forward to seeing this trend of virtual extended family get-togethers continue way beyond lockdown.”
 

Online searches for cream teas and afternoon teas to be delivered have surged since the UK went into lockdown, search data has suggested.

Afternoon tea treats topped the list of most increased searches for "delivery" queries in the UK, analysis of data from Google Trends showed.

Other popular terms included TGI, Nando's, takeaways and cakes, as people looked for a "pick-me-up" treat.

People have also been trying to make sure Royal Mail delivered.

Claire Dinwiddy, from Brewood in Staffordshire, had a cream tea as a surprise treat for her 40th birthday after other celebrations had to be cancelled.

"It was really nice. We were meant to be away with all my family for a long weekend glamping, but obviously it's all not going ahead so my friends did it to cheer me up," she said.

"A cream tea is something I've never had before as a birthday gift and it's really lovely not having to make anything yourself.

"It was proper party food: cakes and sandwiches; the weather was lovely so we sat out in the garden with a parasol and drank champagne."

Kerry Real from Shropshire said her husband ordered a cream tea as a "nice pick-me-up" in the middle of home schooling, working from home and a new baby.

"We like to go to National Trust places, normally we'd have a cream tea while we're there," she said.

"It is one of those nice things we just miss, so we thought, why not do it at home?"
She said the treat was from an independent, Lily's Secret Vintage Pop-up Tearoom, and it felt good to support them.

"I think with lockdown, a lot of things are returning back to supporting local businesses; it's important, it helps them to survive as well."

One of those small business owners is Homemade by Victoria, run by Northamptonshire 23-year-old Victoria Austin.

The former young chef of the year said afternoon teas were now her bestsellers as people rang up and placed orders for friends and family nearby whom they were unable to visit.

She said the deliveries were helping make up for losses from cancelled catering for weddings and other events, and now instead of serving up teas on presentation china, it was now a simple box for hygienic delivery.

"I started doing a few boxes here and there just to see," she said. "They've always been quite popular but never as popular as this. I don't know why it is such a big thing but everyone's loving it."

Students throughout the land are being urged to spend their summer holidays working on farms to help keep Britain fed during the coronavirus crisis.

At present, farmers are struggling after the lockdown led to a mass shortage of regularly used migrant workers.

Sixth-form, college and university students have been encouraged to help pick fruits and vegetables.

A “student land army” is now needed to bring in the harvest according to the Greater Lincolnshire Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP).

80,000 seasonal workers are needed from the end of May to help bring in the UK harvest on farms right across the country.

Students are the primary target market this year - especially due to their six-week summer break.

Sarah Louise Fairburn, chair of the food board at Greater Lincolnshire LEP, said: “The food sector in Greater Lincolnshire employs up to 56,000 people produces a quarter of the country’s vegetables and is nationally important in keeping our nation fed.

“Because of the current travel restrictions put in place to combat the coronavirus, our farms are struggling to recruit the workers needed to bring in the harvest this year.

“Therefore, a student land army can have a significant impact on the national effort to overcome the pandemic emergency and will give students a chance to earn an income while they are not studying”.

The leader of the Farmers Union (NFU) has warned that the UK could face a potato shortage following the failure to drench rivers had led to recent mass flooding.

NFU president Minnette Batters said that; “The water has been managed in a disgraceful way.

“Up to 50 per cent of this year’s crop is rotting in the ground because farmers have been unable to harvest”.

She added: “I have never seen so little winter planting in my working lifetime”.

With the UK entirely self-sufficient in fresh potatoes, a shortage can mean rises in costs and it disappearing in supermarkets.

Furthermore, a shortage of seeds for spring planting could mean that the shortage could last well into next year.

Added to flooding issues, cold weather and poor lighting in sourthern Europe is said to have created the ‘perfect storm’ of growing condititions.

Ocado has said that “more normal shopping habits are back” after there was a huge jump in demand amid the coronavirus lockdown.

Its customers are now purchasing fewer items that at the peak period of demand, with the balance between fresh and long-live food returning to normal.

The online grocer has made changes to increase the delivery slots available, including suspending the delivery of mineral water.

Its revenues in April were up more than 40% from a year earlier.

The retailer said: “At the beginning of the outbreak demand increase significantly, almost overnight”.

It limited the number of items on sale initially in order to stop customers from panic buying.

Ocado said that these limits have since been rolled back as the number of items that shoppers are putting in their baskets “appears to have passed its peak but remains high”.

Group chief executive, Tim Stein, said: “We are facing quite a difficult challenge as we scale feeding the nation”.

The supermarket has been criticized on social media as customers faced being one of thousands in a virtual queue who are placing food orders.

Stein added: “Ocado remains in a strong position and we should be grateful that our current challenges are around growth, expansion and increased demands”.

One of the UK’s leading food companies, Premier Foods, have said that sales of Super Noodles and the instant potatoes, Smash, as well as Lloyd Grossman’s sauces have increased sharply a people are making effort to stock up their cupboard with relevant items as the coronavirus-due lockdown continues.

The brand’s owners have said that demands for its Cadbury and Mr Kipling home based kits were also up on sale figures.

Premier Food credited the “exceptional” demand last month to more meals being eating at home.

After the updates of the trading figures, share in the business jumped 17%.

According to consumer analysts, Kantar, in March the average UK household spent an extra £62.92 on supermarket goods, which is the equivalent of five days’ worth of groceries.

Teachers’ unions in the UK have welcomed a government decision which declares that families who are eligible for FSM (Free School Meals) will be able to continue to receive financial support to buy food throughout the coming Easter holidays.

Ministers said that qualifying families could claim shopping vouchers of £15 a week – per child – during the term time.

Now, the scheme will be extended in England over the coming two-week holiday.

The unions said that the move would help to prevent children from going hungry, as the coronavirus pandemic continues.

Over the weekend, Cabinet Office Minister, Michael Gove, confirmed that the vouchers would continue to be paid over the Easter holiday.

Paul Whiteman, general secretary of the NAHT

Union said he was pleased to see the government “taking action to support some of the most vulnerable children.

“We know that for many children, school lunch is often their only hot meal for the day and, in some cases, their only meal – full stop.

“The government is doing the right thing in stepping up and making sure that all children can continue to access the food they – in many cases, desperately – need”

Families are being issued with either an electronic voucher or gift card worth £15 to spend in M&S, Asda, Tesco, Sainsbury’s, Morrisons and Waitrose.

 Nothing sparks as much debate as the quintessential afternoon treat, the scone – particularly the order in which to apply accompanying condiments. The Cornish method being to go for jam then cream, while the Devonshire fashion is to layer the scone in cream before adding jam.

Fortunately, the question has been put to the nation by the independent French restaurant group Bistrot Pierre, which has 25 nationwide bistrots, to coincide with the launch of its new afternoon tea menu this week.

The matter has been settled once and for all through a survey of more than 2,000 people, revealing that a whopping 76% enjoy their scones jam first and the remaining 24% choose the cream first option.

Arpita Anstey of Bistrot Pierre said: “The biggest debate when it comes to the humble scone has, of course, always been the order of cream and jam. So, we decided to put it to the nation and settle the debate once and for all.

“Et voilà – the people have spoken. And just over three quarters of them agree with the Queen, reaching for the jam before the cream.”

Those living in the north of England are most likely to apply their jam first, with four in five choosing the popular method. Whereas people are more closely divided in the south, where one third of people opt to layer cream before their jam.

Arpita continued: “The statistics show that the further north you travel, the more likely you are to opt for the Cornish method of jam first, followed by cream. The north east is the biggest champions of the jam-first approach, with 84% of diners marking this as their preference, followed by 81% of people in the north west and Yorkshire.”

Bistrot Pierre’s afternoon tea is served with a selection of mini baguettes and a range of French patisseries including chocolate eclairs and vanilla millefeuille. Topping it all off will be the classic fruit scones with clotted cream and strawberry jam, served with a choice of hot drinks for £11.95 per person.

Arpita continued: “And if our customers wish to make their afternoon tea session ‘pop’, they can order our sparkling afternoon tea, which includes a glass of our elegant Veuve Devienne sparkling wine for £15.95 per person.

“It simply wouldn’t be an afternoon tea without scones served with jam and cream – all you need to do is decide which comes first!”

When open, Bistrot Pierre’s afternoon tea menu is available in all 25 bistrots every day between 2.30 and 5.30pm.

Region

Jam First

Cream First

UK

76%

24%

North

81%

19%

Midlands

79%

21%

South

66%

34%

Wales

79%

21%

 

A British Heart Foundation (BHF) survey suggests the average person from the West Midlands could eat around 6,870 chocolate bars, 2,110 slices of chocolate cake and 7,580 chocolate biscuits in their lifetime.
 
The survey also found on average people from the West Midlands could indulge themselves with around 2,850 mugs of hot cocoa, 130 Easter eggs and up to 2,860 miniature chocolates over the course of their life.
 
The figures have been released ahead of the BHF’s annual Dechox campaign. The nation’s favourite heart charity is challenging chocolate lovers to put their will power to the test and give up chocolate for the month of March to raise funds for its lifesaving work.
 
Galaxy topped the poll as the region’s favourite chocolate bar, beating Snickers by a narrow margin. Crunchie came in third place followed closely by the classics KitKat, Flake and Wispa.
 
Jo Pullin, Dechox Campaign Manager at the British Heart Foundation (BHF), said: “We know that chocolate isn’t an essential part of a healthy diet but is a much-loved indulgence in the UK.
 
“Whether it’s in cakes, biscuits, a tasty dessert or a chocolate bar, there are so many options available it’s easy to lose track of how much chocolate we’re consuming.
 
“It can be difficult to break our chocolate habits but Dechox is the perfect way to help cut your chocolate cravings whilst raising money for a good cause.”
 
The survey also revealed that two-fifths (40%) of people from the West Midlands claim chocolate is their favourite food, and nearly the same percentage (39%) confessed to being chocoholics.
 
It seems that the regions love of chocolate is undeniable with 47% admitting they haven’t and wouldn’t try to give up the sweet stuff. Of the 20% who HAVE attempted to take a Time Out from chocolate, they have managed to last an average of 19 days before caving to cravings.
 
Jo Pullin added: “We know we’re a nation of chocolate lovers and that’s why we’re calling on the nation to put their will power to the test this March for a fantastic cause.
 
“Anything with cocoa in it is off limits ‐ from the sprinkles on your cappuccino, to that 3pm chocolate bar. We know the people of the West Midlands are up to the challenge.
 
“It might be a rocky road but Dechox is a great way to help curb your chocolate cravings and fund the British Heart Foundation’s vital research into heart and circulatory conditions, which around 660,000 people are living with in the West Midlands.”
 
Since Dechox began in 2015 more than 100,000 people have ditched the sweet stuff and taken part. Their Aero-ic efforts have raised over £4.5m for the BHF’s vital research into heart and circulatory diseases such as coronary heart disease, stroke and vascular dementia, and the risk factors that cause them, like diabetes. The charity is now calling on even more people take a (chocolate) break and get involved this March.
 
Each year, in the UK around 170,000 people lose their lives to a heart or circulatory disease – that’s one person every three minutes. By joining the thousands of other Dechoxers, you can help the BHF keep more hearts beating and blood flowing.

The BBC Good Food Show Winter is heading back to the flagship Birmingham NEC  bringing together the UK’s greatest chefs and experts, plenty of festive shopping and inspiration, exciting live entertainment in the unique Big Kitchen and on numerous stages across the Show.

It will provide the perfect opportunity to get into the spirit of the season with a fantastic line-up of chefs and experts, you can feast your eyes on hundreds of artisan producers, pick up the perfect stocking fillers, get hands-on in masterclasses, and so much more – all the ingredients for the ultimate foodie day out.

Packed with seasonal produce, ideas for al-fresco dining and hundreds of exciting producers and brands to shop from, there will be all the summer inspiration you need by soaking up expert masterclasses, live demos from the seasonal stages and much more.

Plus, there will be the chance to join Mary Berry, Tom Kerridge, Michel Roux Jr, Nadiya Hussain, Raymond Blanc, the Hairy Bikers, Ainsley Harriott and Rick Stein as they cook up a summer feast in The Big Kitchen.

Again, at this year’s BBC Good Food Show Winter (November 28 – December 1), there will also be the widest variety of food, drink and cookery products from over 450 exhibitors, including great brands and a vast range of independent and artisan producers.

And, as always, it promises to be the biggest and tastiest day out in the UK.

Belgium celebrated Saint Arnould, the Patron Saint of brewers by blessing a barrel of beer in a cathedral in Brussels.

Dressed in costumes and accompanied by a band, the knights of the ‘Brewer's Paddle’, or Belgian Brewers' Guild, marched from the city's iconic Grand Palace to the altar where the consecration ceremony was held.

According to the tradition, Saint Arnould was the son of a brewer and therefore learned the secrets of brewing at an early age.

Michel Tasnier, a member of the ‘Knighthood’ for 27 years, said: "It's a great moment of conviviality. Knights meet there, we forget about competition.

"The key word of this is the quality of beer, produced with knowledge and drunk with wisdom."

Production manager at Chimay Brewery, Xavier Pirlot, also spoke highly of the event, saying: "It's the day, the D-day of my year, of my brewing year," said Pirlot. "It's the opportunity for me to meet my colleagues and to celebrate our beer."

The ceremony was followed by ‘Beer Weekend’, an event gathering all brewers on the Grand Place to get the public to discover Belgium's best brews.

A new activity bar is set to open in an up-and coming area of Digbeth, Birmingham on Friday July 12.

Dropshot’s entertainment and multi-use activity bar which features music, Olympic grade table tennis tables and deck shuffleboards among its many attractions, also offers specially prepared pizzas cooked in a wood fired pizza oven, especially imported from Italy, as well as a range of craft beers, bar food and some amazing cocktails, both classic and modern.

The licensed entertainment venue, which can cater for up to 250 no of people, is situated 50 yards from the custard factory, in the heart of the redeveloped area of Digbeth Birmingham.

Sanj Basra, entrepreneur and managing director at Drop Shot said: “My family has over 30 years history in the manufacturing trade. We have owned and run several businesses and currently export globally to over 30 countries. I have personally been a local businessman for 12 years.

“Being entrepreneurial I have been recently exploring for ways to enter new markets so that I could diversify my business portfolio, and converting this building that we have owned for over 15 years into an activity bar is opening a new chapter and opportunity for me. One that I am very excited about.”

General Manager Jake Murphy said: “I have worked in several industries since the age of 19, but my passion for hospitality and entertainment has never really gone away. I am keen to provide a safe and engaging multi-use entertainment venue where anyone of energy and enthusiasm can congregate, exchange ideas and thrive. Working alongside Sanjeev, opening Dropshot enables me to do that and being in such a prime location is a bonus.”

Salcombe Brewery Co. boasts an outstanding range of award-winning beers, hand-crafted in South Devon, with Salcombe Pale Ale and Shingle Bay topping the list as the perfect accompaniment for your BBQ this season.

Salcombe Pale Ale (ABV 4.6%) is a great choice for summer dining. It is a fresh, full-bodied and powerfully hopped pale ale with an orange, pink grapefruit and anise flavour. It is the ideal partner for chargrilled food and is best served chilled.

Shingle Bay (ABV 4.2%) is a delightfully easy-drinking golden ale that has a pleasant fruity aroma and a subtle crisp bite. The use of the pacific gem hop adds a complexity to the aroma with notes of blackberry and spiced fruit. Lovingly crafted in this popular coastal retreat, simply add sunshine for maximum enjoyment.

Waitrose & Partners today announces plans to treble the size of its successful online grocery operation to a £1bn business over the next three years, working in partnership with Today Development Partners (TDP).

The move with TDP, which is headed by Jonathan Faiman and Mo Gawdat, will accelerate the development of Waitrose.com through a significant increase in capacity and automation and will see a rapid step change in Waitrose.com's online and digital capabilities. Together, Waitrose.com and TDP plan to develop three state-of-the-art automated Customer Fulfilment Centres (CFCs) while harnessing cutting edge technical capabilities to deliver an outstanding online customer experience.

The Waitrose.com service is currently provided through a combination of from-branch deliveries, and through the Coulsdon Fulfilment Centre, opened in 2015 - as well as via a planned second CFC to serve the North London area.

To lead this growth in online, Ben Stimson - currently Retail Director - has been appointed to the new role of Digital Director with immediate effect. Ben will work across all areas of Waitrose & Partners to lead the delivery of the growth in capacity and sales of Waitrose.com and will manage the new relationship with TDP. The role will build on his previous role, where in addition to holding responsibility for shops and contact centres, Ben led market-beating online growth and significant increases in customer satisfaction. He will make digital integral to the business with the aim of making it easy for customers to shop in the way that suits them - barriers between online and offline shopping will disappear.

Rob Collins, MD of Waitrose & Partners, commented: 'Waitrose.com is a popular and efficient home delivery service that is already growing strongly ahead of the market. The plans announced today represent a clear commitment to achieve rapid step-change in Waitrose.com's capacity and capability as we build a modern, well-invested digital business that is fit for the future.

'The development of our new Customer Fulfilment Centres will triple our delivery capacity, bringing our well-loved service and delicious food to more customers across the UK and setting Waitrose.com on the path to becoming a £1 billion turnover business.'

Jonathan Faiman, Co-founder and CEO of Today Development Partners said: “I am more excited about this new venture than anything I've done in my career. I am delighted and privileged to be back within the John Lewis Partnership family and we will deliver for Waitrose.com customers the world's best digital home delivery service.”

Mo Gawdat, chief business officer of TDP and former chief business officer of Google X, the innovation arm of Google, said: “What we're aiming to build is the kind of platform that touches everyone's life. With the advancement in technology and with Waitrose.com as our partner we aim to make the experience of using this technology a great experience for the customer.”

When people think about a vegan diet they often conjure up images of wholesome plant-based foods like fruit, vegetables, beans, seeds, and grains. However, as the lifestyle choice gains popularity, supermarkets are reacting by stocking fridges and freezers with convenience foods aimed at vegans. This could be seen as a breakthrough as the choice becomes more mainstream, but Simon Bandy, General Manager of Veganicity, warns that some of these processed provisions could actually turn people into junk food vegans.

No matter what diet you follow, everyone should consider eating whole and unprocessed foods. For vegans who don’t want to, or don’t have the time to cook from scratch, Simon explains some of the issues they should be aware of:

• Check sodium levels. Processed foods are often packed with excess salt as it acts as a preservative. Too much salt can lead to high blood pressure, which is associated with heart attacks. A high intake can also cause water retention resulting in puffiness and bloating. It is recommended that adults should consume no more than 6g (one teaspoon) of salt a day at most

• Sugar intake. Advice is that added sugars should not make up more than five percent of our daily diet. This is from both food and drink. Too much sugar can lead to weight gain and tooth decay. On packaging, opt for foods that have 5g of total sugars (or less) per 100g

• Fat levels. Fat is important for everyone, as it helps the body absorb vitamins A, D and E. Cutting down on saturated fats like coconut oil (which can contain up to 90% saturated fat) is the importance as it can raise cholesterol levels in the blood. Men should have no more than 30g of saturated fat a day, and only 20g for women. Aim for good fats like sunflower oil as it also contains Omega-6 which can help lower cholesterol. The best option is to choose labelling which states the dish is low fat or fat-free.

Simon comments: “Obviously there are times where we treat ourselves and indulge in our favourite fast food. When doing this, try to have that food as a small portion and boost the plate with a good selection of fresh vegetables and whole grains.

“A balanced diet is always the best option, but if vegans feel their diet is lacking in vitamins or minerals they can opt to boost the body with supplements. Our diverse range is 100% vegan, animal-friendly and registered with the Vegan Society, so it’s one less thing to think about.”

Princess Cruises has announced that its new gin-based 'Sapphire Princess' cocktail is now being served on its main UK ship.

Created in partnership with the Bombay Sapphire Distillery, the bespoke cocktail is named after the returning Sapphire Princess cruise ship. The drink will be served exclusively on the vessel, which will spend April – October 2019 sailing to a variety of destinations from Southampton including the Mediterranean, Norwegian Fjords and Canada & New England.

Inspired by the 2,670-guest ship and its Mediterranean ports of call, the bright blue-hued drink is the newest addition to the ship's cocktail menu and will complement the wide range of beverage options already available onboard.

The drink includes a generous measure of Bombay Sapphire gin, which is itself made with botanical ingredients sourced from several of the countries and destinations Sapphire Princess sails to, whilst the cocktail's mixers include Blue Curacao to evoke the sea, and a splash of Prosecco to signify the fizz and bubbles created by waves in the water.

The line has also introduced a brand new excursion for 2019, to the Bombay Sapphire Distillery located in Laverstoke, Hampshire. Available on the day of disembarkation in Southampton, this in-depth tour offers guests the chance to learn the process of gin production, taste the signature botanicals for which the distillery is renowned and toast their holiday.

Tony Roberts, Princess Cruises' vice president UK and Europe, said: “We are thrilled to welcome Sapphire Princess back for another summer of sailings from Southampton and I really cannot think of a better way to greet her arrival than with a glass of this perfect summer cocktail.

“Guests can enjoy a glass or two of this delicious drink in one of the many bars onboard throughout their cruise and by offering a brand new tour to the Bombay Sapphire Distillery, they have the opportunity to continue their holiday even after they have left the ship.”

Sam Carter, Senior Brand Ambassador for the Bombay Sapphire Distillery, said: “The Sapphire Princess cocktail is a silky smooth, well-balanced libation that takes its inspiration partially from the deep bright blue colour of the Mediterranean Sea and also the countries that the Sapphire Princess sails around.”