Colors: Green Color
Colors: Green Color

With the hospitality sector reopening its doors to customers as COVID-19 restrictions ease, pubs and bars are most in danger of missing out on key trade due to poorly perceived hygiene and infection control standards.

According to research undertaken by infection control specialist, JLA, pubs and bars currently hold the lowest levels of public approval with regard to hygiene and infection control, with 22.2% of survey respondents viewing pubs and bars as having a “poor” hygiene and infection control standards, and only 38.6% currently holding a positive opinion.

Conversely, according to the nationally representative survey into 2,000 members of the public, restaurants hold the best public reputation for hygiene in the hospitality sector, with 52.8% of consumer respondents happy with standards in these businesses, and only 12.2% having a poor opinion. Hotels rank in the middle of the hospitality industry, with 45.8% of those surveyed believing that standards are currently either ‘good’ or ‘excellent’ and just over an eighth (12.2%) of customers hold a negative opinion.

It is clear that having a strong reputation for hygiene and infection control is now critical to public trust, with the report also highlighting that 77% of the public hold greater concerns in this area compared to the year previously – attributing this change directly to COVID-19. The same research also showed that if a hospitality business had a poor reputation in regard to hygiene, 65.1% of the public would never use the business again due to the heightened infection risk.

JLA carried out the research as part of its “Infection Insights” campaign to improve customer reassurance and peace of mind across the hospitality industry as businesses in the sector begin to re-open their doors to the public.

Ben Gujral, CEO at JLA, commented: “Unfortunately, the hospitality is among the sectors hardest hit by the financial fallout of COVID-19. One in 10 consumers have not visited a pub, restaurant or hotel since lockdowns began, highlighting the importance of providing reassurance to loyal customers that may currently be reluctant to return.

“With public attitudes towards hygiene and cleanliness becoming even more prominent, hospitality establishments must be mindful that hygiene and infection control are no longer “nice to have” but instead an absolute necessity for hospitality businesses looking to thrive in 2021 and beyond.

“Pubs, bars and the hospitality sector as a whole should take the opportunity to do what they can to demonstrate a priority for infection control that keeps both their staff and customers as safe as possible. This could be the deciding factor in the success of a hospitality business post COVID19.”

Following months of careful renovation, The Boat, which sits in the heart of Catherine-De-Barnes has announced that it will be opening its doors on Thursday 20th May.

Sitting in a prime location beside the Grand Union Canal on Hampton Lane, The Boat has been transformed to create a pub with contemporary feel, transforming the space into the perfect setting for all social occasions all year round – both inside and out.

Guests looking for an al-fresco spot to reunite with family and friends can enjoy the terraced patio at the front of the pub, or unwind in the beautiful gardens, featuring fire pits and a fully-stocked outdoor bar.

Dan Morgan, general manager at The Boat, said: “After months of renovation, we’ve been waiting patiently to be able to open our doors, and the whole team is hugely excited to finally welcome locals dropping in for a pint with muddy paws in tow, couples enjoying a date night or hosting family celebrations in our new pub.

“We’ve considered every detail, from our beautiful new interior and gardens, to our hand-picked suppliers, everything is in place to make sure we can give guests a memorable experience.”

The Boat will serve an extensive drinks menu that has been designed with every guest and every sip in mind. From well-crafted cocktails to a collection of classic martini’s, including a staple French Martini to an exquisite Espresso Martini, plus an array of non-alcoholic drinks.

Wine lovers can gather to hit the right note and discover a favourite from the wine cellar, there’s wines by the glass and hard to find bottles from some of the world’s most interesting vineyards. The pub will also offer an innovative range of craft ales and lagers, local cask and house ale.

Executive Chef Ben Sylvester and Head Chef Tom Ebbon have fused tradition and innovation to curate a menu which celebrates provenance and showcases the best of British farms.

Dan continued: “We’re all about great social food, from grazing sharing plates and stix, to artisan pizzas, plus a brunch menu worth dedicating a morning to. We want to offer our customers a menu that takes them from brunch to supper.”

The Boat will be open from 8.30am to 10.00pm, with a new private dining room that will offer the perfect meeting spot to catch up with colleagues or friends, any time of the day. The Boat is set to open on Thursday 20th May, government guidance permitting.

It has been revealed that a quarter of adults skip breakfast at least four times a week – because they are ‘too busy’ or have nothing ‘appealing’ to eat, despite more people than ever working from home. A new survey of 2,000 adults by McDonald’s found 15% claim they simply don’t have time to sit down to eat the first meal of the day, whilst more than one-in-10 (13%) get caught up in ‘other things’ – likely to do with the merging of home and work-life.

Almost-a-third of uninspired UK adults (29%) say they skip breakfast because they have nothing in their cupboards that they feel like eating. With so many working, living and eating in the same place every-day, it’s no wonder the UK is feeling bored of breakfast in 2021.

Breakfast in Numbers:

 

·         Savoury Tastes: Just over a fifth of those polled like to have something sweet for breakfast, while 38% prefer savoury

·         Hunger Strikes: 22% get less done and to a lesser standard due to feeling hungry

·         Mid-Morning Nap: Those who skip breakfast only last until an average of 10:26am before they start to feel wiped out

·         Number One: The most popular McDonald’s breakfast menu item is the humble Hash Brown (17%) followed by the iconic Sausage & Egg McMuffin® (16%)


The survey also discovered that we tend to make-do with a basic breakfast - with a single slice of toast considered to be ‘sufficient’ by 74%. Others rely on just a cup of tea (42%) or coffee (44%) to get them ready for the day ahead, meaning rumbling tummies across the nation.

Despite this, 55% consider breakfast to be the most important meal of the day while 73% like and actively enjoy it. However, it’s been revealed that 28% rarely have what they actually want for breakfast – showing a clear need to kick off the day with something tasty.

The McDonald’s survey also found that one-in-ten Brits show off their breakfast on social media… with 15% even buying their breakfast in hope of more likes! 

As part of its new campaign, McDonald’s is celebrating all things breakfast. With McDelivery, contact-free ordering via the My McDonald’s App and as part of the gradual re-opening of McDonald’s restaurants in line with Government guidance, there will be a convenient breakfast offering for all.  

McDonald’s breakfast contains quality ingredients, whether that’s the RSPCA assured British bacon and sausage in the Bacon Roll and McMuffins®, or the free-range eggs that are perfect every time.

A beer made from Worcestershire hop leaves which would otherwise go to waste will be used to toast the first-cut round of Vale of Evesham asparagus, marking the start of the two-month asparagus season this Friday, Saint George's Day.

Described as the wine-lovers beer, binary is much lighter than most beers with a clean prosecco-like profile with hints of tropical fruit. Unlike beers made from hop cones, binary is made from hop leaves. They are not just any old hop leaves either as they are sourced from one of just two organic hop farms in the UK.

Gus the Asparagus Man, Jemima the Asparamancer, Saint George and the Asparafairy will all be on hand at the National Trust's only pub, The Fleece Inn, Bretforton, nestling in the heart of the Vale of Evesham. The first-cut round of asparagus will be blessed, and a binary toast given before the asparagus posse head for the Worcestershire Royal to handover nearly 1000 spears of asparagus to NHS staff.

Francis Ford Coppola Winery, the extraordinary Northern California winery, has created two limited-edition wines in honour of the 93rd Hollywood’s most prestigious cinema awards.

“The Family Coppola 93rd Awards'” limited-edition bottles themselves have been produced by Bottega Spa and feature a mirror gold colour exterior. Each bottle was crafted as a symbol honouring the significant talent, passion and hard work achieved throughout the entire film industry.

The Francis Ford Coppola Winery wines selected for the 93rd Awards are a Chardonnay and a Cabernet Sauvignon, both from 2019. They come from grapes grown in Sonoma County, in the first year since 2011 that California did not suffer from drought, giving the wine a pleasing complexity, thanks to the high quality of grapes from that year.

The Chardonnay is balanced and bold, with notes of stone fruit and white peach. The Alexander Valley Cabernet Sauvignon is earthy and spicy with good acidity. Both develop an alcohol content of 14.5% vol.

The exclusive golden bottles have been produced by the Bottega S.p.A. winery in Bibano di Godega (TV), which for years has been developing an exclusive metallization process, thanks to the mirrored gold colour becomes "glass,", a patent recently recognised also by the Court of Appeal of Venice.

The friendship with Francis Ford Coppola and Sandro Bottega was born together with Stefania Sandrelli, who says: "mutual esteem and trust is the common thread that has allowed us to come together for a little big common toast" and in the same way Sandro Bottega tells of the uniqueness of Francis Ford Coppola "in every thought there is Italy, our culture (including food and wine): Francis sometimes drinks wine cut with water, a real spritz, like our grandparents; he is a man of great culture who spends a lot of time on history books to imagine the future'.”

If 2020 was the year of the barbecue and outdoor dining, 2021 is when the nation plans to upskill their grill, according to new research from Weber, the world’s leading barbecue brand.

More than half of people polled said they have improved their grill skills since lockdown 1.0 and a quarter are now better at it than ever before. A third also confirmed that taking their barbecuing skills to the next level is their main goal for 2021.

And, with one in 10 taking to the grill daily during the pandemic and 48 per cent making it a weekly ritual, there’s plenty of opportunity to turn the tongs to something new. Not only did people wait for the warmer months to light those flames or turn on the gas - one in 10 weathered the cold on a weekly basis during winter too. 

Dan Cooper, Head Grill Master at Weber, said: "The increased frequency of barbecuing over the past 12 months is a signal that the barbecue has been a centrepiece for many households. It’s a place where people have been able to get together and enjoy good food with good company, safely.

“It seems people have dared to get a bit more adventurous with their meals and step out of their usual comfort zones - there is clearly an appetite for upskilling our grilling which is great to see.”

Before the pandemic, the most popular barbecue dishes included classic chicken drumsticks, corn on the cob, sausages, and burgers. This year, most people say they plan on going bigger and better (28 per cent). A fifth say that the barbecue has allowed them to be more experimental with their food – with a third cooking whole fish and meat joints.

And what better time to do it, with restrictions being lifted and entertaining up to six people in your garden being allowed this month, 37 per cent have already started planning their barbecues for the year ahead with a further 21 per cent planning on having friends and family over for a barbecue every weekend. On top of that, a fifth plan on buying a new barbecue in the coming months.

However, those who still lack confidence with a spatula put it down to lack of experience (35 per cent), worrying they’ll burn it (27 per cent), fear they’ll undercook it (53 per cent), or dread it’ll be overcooked (26 per cent). And a quarter said they feel nervous about not having control over the temperature.

Chris Trewhitt, Marketing Director at Weber, added: “As restrictions begin to lift, people are planning ahead for all the things they’ve missed doing.

“Gathering friends and family for a barbecue whether in the garden or on a beach, is one of the simple outdoor pleasures we can enjoy this summer, and it’s clear from the results this is something people are really looking forward to.

“Last year we saw a huge rise in barbecue purchases, and it follows that Brits appear to be barbecuing more frequently and have an increased appetite for upskilling their grilling.

“At Weber we have launched a range of innovative products and accessories to help boost the nation’s grill skills.

“We have recently launched Weber Connect; a virtual barbecue assistant that helps you get it right every time. And for summer 2021 we will be introducing the world’s first smart gas grill using the Weber Connect technology, leaving no excuse for burned bangers and boring burgers!”

The Weber Connect Smart Grilling Hub takes the guesswork and stress out of barbecue cooking thanks to its advanced grilling technology. Turning any barbecue into a smart grill, the Weber Connect provides step-by-step instructions and sends push notifications straight to a smartphone on everything from barbecue setup, to when food is ready to season, flip, serve, and eat. So, whether you’re looking to perfectly roast a chicken, sear a steak or create stunning vegetable kebabs you can get the perfect result every single time.

And, with nearly half of people surveyed agreeing that food tastes better cooked on the grill than it does in the oven, now is the time to get your tongs, fire up the grill and try something new.

Asparagus growers in the Vale of Evesham are preparing for bumper sales ahead of Saint George's Day on April 23. Not only does this date mark the official start of the short-lived asparagus season, but it is also the first official opportunity for Brits to gastronomically celebrate following the lifting of further lockdown restrictions.

The Vale of Evesham is known as the home of British asparagus and in pre-Covid years, the start of asparagus season was marked by two months of weird and wonderful celebrations throughout the county of Worcestershire. Whilst the usual fun and games are likely to be more subdued, pubs and restaurants are planning extra-special asparagus menus to tempt back their customers.

Asparafacts 2021

 ·         Hollywood stars swear by asparagus to keep in shape including Britney Spears (yes, really), Jessica Biel, Victoria Beckham and Matthew McConaughey.

·         After eating asparagus, your urine may develop the distinctive smell that according to French novelist Marcel Proust "transformed my humble chamber into a bower of aromatic perfume." Everyone makes asparagus pee but not everyone can smell it

·         It's better to buy larger asparagus, like Vale of Evesham, as they are more tender because they have proportionally less ‘woody' fibres. Choose asparagus with a firm and compact tip and supple stalks that don't break easily.

·         Asparagus is also one of the best anti-wrinkle foods. Scientific evidence shows that people who include asparagus in their diet have fewer wrinkles than people who do not eat asparagus

·         Three types of asparagus exist - green, white, and purple

·         Asparagus is a member of the lily family

·         It takes three years to grow asparagus from seed before it is ready to harvest

·         Asparagus can grow 10 inches in 24 hours.

·         On average, Vale of Evesham asparagus has a wider girth than other varieties - approximately half a centimetre thicker.

·         Despite a plethora of recipes available to the modern gastronome, blanched asparagus and melted butter is the No 1 serving choice for Brits

Andrea Zagatti, the private chef behind a £250 ‘Billionaire’ sandwich, has announce the release of his latest culinary creation – The Tsar Egg. Inspired by enigmatic design of a Matryoshka doll, the culinary work of art is covered entirely in 24k gold and is being dubbed the UK’s most expensive Easter Egg.

“The Tsar Egg represents the ultimate expression of high-end culinary craftsmanship”, says Andrea, “Easter is the only time you should put all your eggs in one basket — or in one egg should I say — so why not do it in style!” The Tsar Egg is composed of 3 individual eggs, each decreasing in size, placed one inside another — much like a Matryoshka doll.

The heart (the smallest egg) is made up of bronze chocolate and crystallised violets, and in true Zagatti’s style, wrapped in edible rose gold. The medium sized egg consists of 35% milk chocolate with Difference Coffee Jamaica Blue Mountain beans and hazelnut crumble and is wrapped entirely in edible silver leaves.

The outer egg is produced using 85% dark chocolate with pistachio and gianduja cream layers. And the coating? You guessed it - The Tsar Egg is finally wrapped in 24k edible gold, with the entire structure constituting a 35cm luxury delight.

“I’ve always been fascinated with Russia and its enigmatic culture, so to be able to create something that speaks to Russian cultural opulence, while sparking my culinary creativity is exciting to me!” The Tsar Egg will be available to order on the April 2 and prices start at £1,000.

When leading food delivery app Foodhub heard that donations to charitable causes have fallen substantially during the pandemic, bosses acted quickly to help out.

The ongoing restrictions during lockdown have forced people everywhere to tighten their purse strings over the last year, and as a result, there has been a worrying reduction in charitable donations. So Foodhub pledged to help raise vital funds for three national charities close to the company’s heart.

For every order placed via the Foodhub website/app for one month, 10p was donated to either the Trussell Trust, Make-A-Wish UK and the Macmillan Cancer Support, with Foodhub customers choosing which charity they’d like each order donation to go to. A staggering £55,000 was raised in total and distributed to the three national charities to mark the 12 month lockdown anniversary this week.

Foodhub spokesperson, Wil Chung, said: “This past year has been a tough time for everyone, especially charities, as fundraising events have been placed on hold and charities have really felt this with a big reduction in donations. So we wanted to help raise funds for these three amazing causes.

“Each of the charities chosen holds a special place in the heart of Foodhub employees, as everyone knows someone who has been affected by a terminal illness or by cancer. Food banks have also felt the pinch and have been really stretched with so many people relying on this service now more than ever, so it was vital we did what we could to help out.”

Jason Suckley, CEO of Make-A-Wish UK said: “The pandemic has dramatically affected our ability to fundraise, so we are hugely grateful to all our supporters, including Foodhub. The donation will help to grant more wishes to seriously ill children who desperately need that priceless, positive experience to cherish with their families. This generous contribution will help grant wishes of five children living with critical illnesses in the UK.” 

Executive Director of Fundraising, Marketing and Innovation at Macmillan Cancer Support, Claire Rowney, said: “We are incredibly grateful for the generosity of everyone at Foodhub and their supporters. During a global pandemic, these donations to Macmillan help ensure we are able to do whatever it takes to support people with cancer.

“Every penny raised will play a vital role in enabling us to continue to provide cancer care, fund essential services and offer the crucial support so many people with cancer rely on. Thanks to the donations of Foodhub and their customers, we’ll be able to ensure that no one faces cancer alone.”

Samantha Stapley, Chief Operations Officer at the Trussell Trust, said: “We’ve seen unprecedented numbers of people needing help from food banks as the impact of coronavirus has hit people’s incomes. This isn’t right. But thanks to the support of Foodhub, we have been able to remain agile to the fast-changing situation, ensuring food banks in our network are better equipped to provide the lifeline of emergency food to people in crisis today while we work towards a future where everyone can afford the essentials. Thank you so much.”

As the last few months have shown, a huge amount of food poverty still exists in the UK, and as lockdown restrictions continue – the Trussell Trust has to work harder than ever to support those struggling. Foodhub’s donation has helped support the network distribution of 1.2M emergency food parcels, with 2,600 parcels going to children every day between April 1 and September 30, 2020.

A Greek-inspired street food company will be launching brand new restaurant Kouzina at Selfridges Birmingham once lockdown restrictions on hospitality are lifted.

From Street Kitchen Brothers, a West Midlands-based Greek-Cypriot family run business, Kouzina will be the first eatery to serve authentic Greek food at the renowned iconic department store. Once Selfridges doors reopen, shoppers will be able to indulge in Greek Mezze cuisine – including the famous moussaka (as seen on The Hairy Bikers show) souvlaki, stifado, and a range of traditional sweet treats from the Greek Bakery such as baklava and kadaifi.

The restaurant will launch with a takeaway offer until government guidelines allow for indoor hospitality, when customers will be welcomed in for all-day dining. The restaurant will seat 50 covers. The company was founded by brothers Paul Polyviou and Chris Butcher, who are regulars at The NEC, Digbeth Dining Club, BBC Good Food Show, and Lichfield Food Festival, and are keen to get back into the kitchen and feed hungry shoppers in the city centre.

Paul Polyviou and Chris Butcher, owners of Street Kitchen Brothers, stated “We’re incredibly excited to be bringing Kouzina to the Selfridges store. Opening a restaurant in Birmingham is something that we have always aspired to do and this has provided us with the perfect opportunity to take our business to the next level. We are extremely passionate about food and we do everything with our customers in mind. We’re thrilled to finally bring a taste of Greece and Cyprus to the city with our street food and taverna favourites”

Selfridges Birmingham General Manager, Sam Watts, says: “I was first introduced to Street Kitchen Brothers, my local Greek takeaway, by a friend and was hooked immediately, making my way through all the dishes on the menu. I got to know founders Chris and Paul and as testament to my love for their food, have worked with them to launch Kouzina at Selfridges Birmingham.

“We’re excited to welcome customers back to store with the addition of Kouzina and its delicious authentic Greek meze, wraps and specials. With vegan and vegetarian dishes making up half of the menu, it aligns with our sustainability commitments to offer more planet-friendly food.” Throughout the Covid-19 lockdown, Street Kitchen Brothers were able to keep customers satisfied with their unique ‘Kouzina’ Cook at Home Range and takeaway service.

The online shop has proved to be a huge success for Street Kitchen Brothers, who wanted to recreate their Grandmother’s Greek feasts from their childhoods in Greece and Cyprus, where the dinner table would be filled with memorable dishes and shared by the whole family. Now these memorable dishes will be shared by family, friends and colleagues in Birmingham’s iconic department store.

National charity Heart Research UK have launched their first charity cookbook, featuring 17 recipes from celebs, chefs and some of the web’s biggest food bloggers.

The e-book, which is available to download here for a suggested donation of £5, features a selection of well-balanced recipes from some of the best known faces in food and fitness, including Joe Wicks, The Hairy Bikers, Heart Research UK ambassador Sally Bee, Gennaro Contraldo, Michelin Star Chef Tom Kitchin, Masterchef winner Shelina Permaloo and many more.

Recipes range from light breakfasts and brunches, through to healthy snacks, show-stopping main meals and family favourites, and even a few desserts.

Dr Helen Flaherty, Head of Health Promotion and Education at Heart Research UK, said: “As someone who loves cooking and eating nutritionally balanced dishes, I know that healthy eating doesn’t have to be boring or expensive.

“We put together this cookbook to provide everyone, from families and first time cooks to the home-chef extraordinaire, a selection of recipes that are healthy, full of flavour and unpretentious.

“I often advise people on making dietary changes to reduce their risk of heart disease and manage their weight. A healthy, well-balanced diet contains plenty of fruit, vegetables and wholegrain foods and not too much fat, sugar or salt. By using this cookbook, we hope you will discover some delicious new recipes that will enable you to keep looking after your heart.”

The cookbook can be downloaded for a suggested donation of £5. All of the money raised will support Heart Research UK's life-saving work, funding pioneering research into the prevention, treatment and cure of heart disease.

Recipes for ‘easy white bread’ have proven to be the most popular amongst Brits looking to hone in their baking skills during the pandemic, new data analysis reveals. 

A full-scale analysis of the UK’s bread baking habits has been conducted by SEO Agency Blueclaw, revealing the highest-rated and most popular recipes ahead of this year's Real Bread Week - beginning on 20th February.  The analysis looked at guides provided by the UK’s top recipe provider and found that other popular choices among amatuer bakers include naan bread and cheesy garlic bread. 

‘Easy’ bread recipes seemed to be most popular, as ‘bread in four easy steps’ ranked at the number four position - showing more new bakers are now looking for recipes than before. 

Surprisingly, the data also showed a nationwide shift towards vegan bread recipes, as these proved to be the most popular despite longer prep and cooking times - accounting for 35% of the site’s search volume compared to their non-vegan and vegetarian counterparts. As well as being higher rated and more popular, vegan recipes were also found to be a lot healthier than others with around a third less calories on average and just over 60% less fat.

This year’s Real Bread Week encourages Brits to support local, independent bakeries and to bake their own bread, with the aim being to focus on consuming fewer additives in 2021. In fact, this year the annual celebration could prove more prominent given that more Brits are turning their hands to baking during lockdown than ever before. 

During the first lockdown in March 2020, Google search trend data showed a massive spike in searches for ‘bread recipes’ which increased by 50%. With Brits now having nearly a year to perfect their baking skills in the boredom of lockdown, this year's Real Bread Week, beginning on 20th February, is expected to see bread recipes go through another rise in search volume.

The French government has criticised Lyon's mayor after he removed meat from school lunches in the city.

Gregory Doucet, a member of the Green party, has said the move allows service to be streamlined and quickened amid coronavirus restrictions. But the government has hit back, accusing him of risking children's health.

Agriculture Minister Julien Denormandie wrote: "Let's stop putting ideology on our children's plates." In a post on Twitter he added: "Let's just give them what they need to grow well. Meat is part of it." Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin said it was an "unacceptable insult" for French farmers and butchers.

"We can see that the moralising and elitist policy of the Greens excludes the popular classes. Many children often only get to eat meat at the school canteen." Mr Doucet responded by saying his right-wing predecessor as mayor introduced the same measure during the pandemic last year.

Fish and eggs remain on school menus in Lyon, and Mr Doucet said menus would be balanced for all children. Nutritionists say a vegetarian diet is safe for children, but advise taking extra care to ensure sufficient amounts of protein, iron and other minerals are included.

Lyonnaise cuisine is world renowned, with a particular emphasis on meat and offal. But there are signs of tastes changing. Sales of meat-free products are on the rise, and a 2018 law made it compulsory for schools to make one day vegetarian. A vegan restaurant recently made history in France by winning a coveted Michelin star.

Mr Doucet maintains the measure is solely as a result of the pandemic, but has been unafraid to challenge French traditions. He has previously called the Tour de France bike race "macho and polluting".

Ahead of Shrove Tuesday, Severn Trent is asking customers to help avoid any sewer blockages by binning leftover food waste rather than putting it down the drain.

Severn Trent’s sewer blockages lead, Grant Mitchell, explains: “Pancake batter and leftover food can cause a real flipping problem if it’s washed down the drain. Just like fat, oil and grease (commonly known as FOG), food waste quickly hardens once it reaches the pipes and can attach to other unflushable items, such as wet wipes and sanitary products, to create a blockage or even a fatberg, which is something nobody would wish to experience.

“So rather than tossing any remaining batter and toppings down the sink, we’re encouraging people to collect any leftovers in a container and throw it in the bin once cooled and use kitchen roll to wipe down pans and plates before washing them or putting them in the dishwasher. We completely understand that disposing of FOG and other food waste can sometimes be tricky, but a couple of small changes can make a big difference when it comes to reducing the chance of a blockage.” The company clears thousands of blockages each year, with around 70% being caused by the wrong things being put down the sink and toilet.

Grant added: “Many customers may not realise that they are responsible for the waste pipe running away from their home up until it either crosses the property boundary or meets with another waste pipe or sewer. Unblocking or repairing this section of pipe can be costly, but completely avoidable if you’re careful about what you put down your toilet and sink. It doesn’t take much to cause a blockage, but by binning FOG and food waste, rather than blocking drains and sewers, customers can make sure that a blockage doesn’t crêpe up on them.”

Lockdown has seen UK consumers takeaway habits change dramatically during 2020, with more people than ever relying on food delivery services. Foodhub, one of the UK’s largest food ordering platforms grew substantially throughout this period, adding new partners across the UK and overseas to process a total of 47M orders during the year. 

This rapid expansion saw Foodhub leapfrog Uber Eats to become #3 in the UK, by the number of takeaway restaurant partners. It’s huge growth when you consider that, at the end of 2019, Foodhub was partnered with 12,000 food outlets. But now, in January 2021, that number has risen by 70% to over 20,000 total, thanks largely to Foodhub’s unique partner offering. 

Of all the major market players, including Just Eat and Deliveroo, Foodhub is the only food aggregator that does not charge a commission per order, instead partners sign up to a flat-fee monthly subscription model, resulting in a significant saving for them. Since its launch, Foodhub has encouraged partners to pass this saving on to the customers – which they do. According to an independent study in 2019, Foodhub orders were an average of 15% cheaper than an equivalent order from Just Eat. 

On Foodhub’s partner offer, CEO Ardian Mula said: “This has been an incredible year of growth for Foodhub, and as we continue to expand, it’s great to see new partners are taking our advice and passing the 15% saving onto their customers. We’re the only major player in the market right now offering this subscription model, and as more outlets continue to flock to Foodhub it will become increasingly apparent that a non-commission approach is the future of the takeaway industry.” 

The other factor in Foodhub’s huge growth in 2020 is a number of significant overseas expansions. In the space of a year, the brand began trading in the USA, Guatemala, Ireland, Australia and New Zealand. As well as these new territories, Foodhub also expanded existing operations in Mexico, Malaysia and Chennai, India, to support growth, as well as invested in operations closer to home. At its HQ in Stoke on Trent, Foodhub added a c-suite team to support growth plans. New team members include the new Chief Operating Officer, Philip Mostyn, Chief Technology Officer, Paul Hodkinson, and Chief Revenue Officer, Martin Hawkes.

The rapid growth in the number of partners has naturally caused a substantial uptake in the number of orders Foodhub processes each year. In 2019, the total orders processed via the Foodhub platform was 2M, however at the end of 2020 it had risen by over 300% to 8M orders. Online, the story is the same, with orders growing 200% from 14.6M in 2019 to 28.5M in 2020. Internationally, Foodhub’s growth has been spectacular. Since its launch in Ireland, the UK brand has acquired 338 partners. In Australia and New Zealand, the figures are even more impressive, with over 1,600 partners joining the 0% commission platform. 

On Foodhub’s international expansions, COO, Philip Mostyn said: “We’ve made fantastic progress in several overseas territories throughout the last year, and one of our big goals in 2021 will be to develop and expand our offering in each territory. If you look at how fast we’ve grown in Australia and New Zealand for example, that will give you an idea of how rapidly we as a brand can develop in a new market.”

Sandwell Council will be funding free school meals to those families who are eligible during the February half-term holidays. Parents and carers will be contacted through their child's school and will receive vouchers to go towards the cost of food for the two week break.

Councillor Wasim Ali, cabinet member for resources and core services, said: "We will again be providing funding for free school meals to ensure no child goes hungry this half-term using a voucher scheme to eligible families. I encourage all those families who are eligible to take up this offer.

"I would like to thank all of our schools for their help and support in getting these vouchers to those families who need them."

Cllr Maria Crompton, Sandwell Council's deputy leader, added: "We used vouchers to help families during the last school holiday and will again do this to make things a little easier for our families to help with the cost of a meal."

Once verified, vouchers will be sent to parents electronically with an alternative being offered to those parents without mobile phones or internet access.

Sandwell Council has budgeted £262,500 to help around 17,500 children. Eligible families will receive a voucher for £15 per child for the week-long school holiday. Schools will contact parents in the coming week when details on how to access the vouchers will be available.