Colors: Green Color
Colors: Green Color

More than 2,600 Tesco stores across the UK are taking part in the annual Tesco Food Collection from Thursday 29 November to Saturday 1 December, encouraging shoppers to donate long-life foods to The Trussell Trust and to food redistribution charity FareShare.

More than a quarter of the food given out last year by Trussell Trust foodbanks was donated by Tesco customers and the network across the UK is hoping the supermarket's annual collection will provide the food they need to support people in crisis this Christmas.

From Thursday 29 November to Saturday 1 December more than 2,600 Tesco stores across the UK are taking part in the annual Tesco Food Collection. The drive encourages shoppers to donate long-life foods to The Trussell Trust and to food redistribution charity FareShare.

The food donated to foodbanks in The Trussell Trust's network is given in emergency food parcels to people referred because they cannot afford to feed themselves and their families. Donations by Tesco customers are vital to foodbanks across the UK, and a quarter of the donations to foodbanks by Tesco customers will be made in the next three days.

Emma Revie, Chief Executive at The Trussell Trust said:

“This year is set to be the busiest Christmas for foodbanks in our network ever. Foodbanks across the country will be doing all they can to provide the best possible emergency support so people don't go hungry - but to make sure support is there for everyone."

Food donated to FareShare is distributed to charities and community groups who use it to provide meals for vulnerable groups such as isolated older people and those in homeless shelters.

It is the 11th collection to take place, and Tesco is topping up the value of the food donated by the public by 20%, providing additional funds to support the charities in their work this Christmas.

Volunteers will greet customers with a list of items most needed by the charities, with shoppers encouraged to pick up items to donate.

More than 3.34 million meals were donated to the two food charities by generous Tesco customers last year, and the supermarket is hoping that shoppers will be just as generous this time around.

Tesco UK & Ireland CEO Jason Tarry and his counterparts from FareShare and The Trussell Trust are launching the Food Collection on Thursday at Tesco's Surrey Quays Extra store in London.

“Tesco Food Collection is the UK's biggest Christmas food collection, and at Tesco we are glad to be playing our part in helping people in need this Christmas.

“We know that the items that our customers donate can make a real difference to people who really need that little bit of extra help this year - whether it is a food parcel for someone at a time of crisis, or a hot meal which means that a vulnerable person does not feel lonely this Christmas.

“Once again we are topping up all the customer donations by a further 20%, and I'd encourage our customers to put something extra in their baskets to donate.”

Lindsay Boswell, CEO at FareShare said:

“For charities doing their best to feed some of the most vulnerable over the Christmas period, these donations make a huge difference.”

This November saw the launch of the new Waitrose & Partners Christmas advertising campaign, Too Good To Wait, with the first of a series of light-hearted Christmas adverts aired on TV.

The first advert, which aired earlier this month, depicts a Christmas concert where a pianist rushes through a rather speedy rendition of Jingle Bells as quickly as possible after learning that Heston from Waitrose Chocolate and Cherry Mince Pies would be served afterwards.

In light of this, Waitrose & Partners conducted research* into the nation's obsession with mince pies and results proved they really are 'Too Good To Wait' for.

When asked when they usually eat their first mince pie of the season, over one in ten will take their first bite over two months before Christmas Day – with people from Yorkshire being the most likely to eat a mince pie in October and those from Northern Ireland the least likely to tuck into a mince pie early. Over one in five of those surveyed will eat their first mince pie in November, just 4% will manage to hold out until Christmas Eve and only 3% until Christmas Day.

Looking at the amount of mince pies consumed, the average person will have already eaten 11 of the seasonal favourites by Christmas Day, while 18% eat between 11 and 30 and a further 5% have eaten up to 50 of the delicious mincemeat treats. When asked for the reasons behind breaking the tradition of eating a mince pie before Christmas Day, half of those surveyed said they love them and just can't wait, further verifying the nation's love affair with the baked treat.

A third of respondents said they eat them to get into the Christmas spirit, rising to 51% among the younger generation (18 – 24 year olds), and over a quarter take part in Christmas celebrations before Christmas Day.

It appears other festive treats also prove too much of a temptation to hold off from eating, with 25% of us tucking into a selection box of chocolates and 14% of us choosing Christmas pudding.

Tesco and WWF today announced a ground-breaking, long-term partnership2 with the aim of reducing the environmental impact of the average UK shopping basket by 50%, improving the sustainability of food while ensuring it remains affordable for all3.

Food production is at the centre of key environmental issues, including climate change and biodiversity loss, as was clearly set out in WWF's recent Living Planet Report 2018.

Working together, Tesco and WWF want to address these issues, focusing on three key areas of activity:

  • Helping customers eat more sustainable diets;
  • Restoring nature in food production; and
  • Eliminating food and packaging waste from the sector.
The partnership comes as new research by the two organisations reveals that demand for sustainable food is high, with nearly 80% of shoppers wanting supermarkets to do more to offer food that is sourced in a responsible, sustainable way.

However, it also showed there are still obstacles deterring shoppers, with 59% confused about which foods count as 'sustainable' and 75% thinking cost is a barrier.

Dave Lewis, Tesco Group CEO said:

“Our Little Helps Plan illustrates what we are doing to address the most significant environmental and social challenges facing our shoppers, colleagues, suppliers, and communities. I'm pleased we're making progress, but we want to go further to achieve our goal of providing customers with affordable, healthy, sustainable food.

“Partnering with WWF will help us make our customers' shopping baskets more sustainable. Our shared ambition is to reduce the environmental impact of the average shopping basket by half. By working with farmers, suppliers, colleagues and other experts we hope to develop innovative solutions so shoppers can put affordable, tasty food on their plates today, confident they are not compromising the future of food for generations to come.”

Tanya Steele, WWF UK CEO said:

“Our flagship Living Planet Report 2018 recently revealed that the world is under threat like never before – we're destroying forests, choking the oceans with plastic, decimating wildlife and causing devastating changes to our climate. And it's the demand for food that poses one of the biggest dangers to our planet. It's the leading cause of deforestation, destroying countless habitats and threatening wildlife to the point of extinction.

“We have the power to not only stop, but to reverse the damage, if we act now. That is why we are delighted to be partnering with Tesco, to help create a food system that doesn't cost the Earth.”

Building on the findings of the report, the partnership will play an important role in delivering Tesco's existing sustainability commitments set out in its Little Helps Plan. Since publishing the Plan a year ago, Tesco has made significant progress in each of its three key areas: People; Places; and Products.

The BBC Good Food Show returns to the NEC on 29th November for four days of celebrity chef inspiration and Christmas shopping, but there is more to this year’s Show than you might expect.

As well as welcoming fresh celebrity face Prue Leith, James Martin and Paul Hollywood return to the Show. The Big Kitchen will host the return of the Michelin Star Challenge, where Birmingham favourite Glynn Purnell will be taking on rising star Tommy Banks, the youngest ever recipient of a Michelin star, in a competitive cook-off.

Glynn isn’t the only local chef trying out new things at this year’s Show – Jamie Desogus head chef at the highly-rated Harborne Kitchen will be making his debut on the BBC Good Food Stage. Fellow Brummie Brad Carter will be joined on the Winter Kitchen by Melissa Hemsley and Dan Doherty.

This winter’s event will feature experiences from industry experts in two of the most loved tipples, beer and whisky.

The Campaign for Real Ale (CAMRA) will be judging its prestigious Champion Bottled Beer of Britain 2018 competition on the opening day of the Show, as well as hosting tutored beer tasting sessions, and partnering beers with pub snacks.

For lovers of all things scotch, Chivas and The Spirit Lounge are giving visitors the chance to learn about the craftsmanship behind whisky, and create a personal blend in an exclusive masterclass (advance booking essential).

As well as a whole host of new exhibitors, including Noisy Nuts and Don Papa Rum, BBC Good Food Show favourites Fox’s Spices will be returning for their 28th year, whilst cheese experts Lynn Bank Farm and sausage specialist Heck will also be back at the Show.

Glynn Purnell, owner of Michelin starred restaurant Purnell’s, said: “The BBC Good Food Show Winter is such a huge occasion - it’s the biggest food event in the country and it takes place right here in Birmingham. The Show is always good fun; as a chef you get to meet and see other chefs who you might not have seen in a while and mingle with the crowds.

“This year, I’m really looking forward to going head to head with the fantastic Tommy Banks in the ultimate cook off, the Michelin Star Challenge, where the audience get to judge for themselves who wins. Hopefully, being a Brummie through and through, I’ll have home when it comes to the audience votes.”

Stout has become so popular again that it is now the fastest growing beer variety in the UK.

In the last year demand for the strong-tasting black coloured beer has grown by 13 per cent at Tesco – nearly twice the growth of its next rival, lager, as a result of the craft beer boom.

Irish stout, including Guinness, dominated the beer market for well over a century, but towards the end of the 20th century stout saw a decline in popularity because of the arrival of lager.

But small UK craft brewers are now adding the beer to their range and Tesco now stocks 10 different stouts as a result of the current trend.

Last week law firm RPC announced that the number of new trademarks for beer brands rose by 20 per cent in 2017 due to the craft beer boom – up from 1,983 the previous year to 2,372 last year.

Tesco stout buyer Hugo Murray said:

“Stout has become popular again on the back of the growing craft beer boom which has brought about a great appreciation of all the wonderful beers brewed across the British Isles.

“British beer tastes are now wider than they have ever been and as a result brewers are taking notice of the craft beer trend and are starting to add a stout to their beer portfolio.

“In the last five or so years a younger audience of drinkers has emerged who are looking for beers with great character and exceptional flavour to challenge the taste buds – perhaps to have at the dinner table as an accompaniment to food much the same as wine.

“As a direct result of this boom we now stock a mix of 10 different stouts  – including traditional, craft and locally brewed lines - something which would have been unthinkable even just five years ago.”

One brewer who has tapped into the growing demand for stout is Vocation, based in Hebden Bridge, West Yorkshire. They recently collaborated with another brewer, Yeastie Boys, to produce a Blueberry and Waffle flavoured stout called Breakfast Club which is stocked by Tesco.

Vocation Managing Director Richard Stenson said:

“For a long time the craft beer market has been all about IPA but we're beginning to see an interest in other styles that have previously been sidelined - none more so than stout.

“With the addition of flavourings like vanilla, butterscotch, blueberries, cherry, chocolate or chilli, stout has got very interesting and is getting the attention of consumers who previously thought it wasn't for them.”

From this week, Waitrose & Partners is trialling three of its Italian ready meals in a widely recyclable tray for two months.

This trial is larger than the retailer's initial one in June as it is in the majority of its shops and more ready meals is in the alternative to black plastic tray.

The supermarket's investment in a material to replace the black plastic tray, which the ready meals are usually in, has seen it create a fibre based tray which feels like cardboard. The cream coloured container is Forest Stewardship Council certified and is labelled as widely recycled. It says on the packaging to rinse the tray and put it in with paper recycling. Waitrose & Partners' Macaroni Cheese, Spaghetti Bolognese and Tuna Pasta Bake meals are in the packaging.

Currently, much of the black plastic packaging used by supermarkets for food such as ready meals and puddings is not recycled as lasers used by waste processors cannot recognise the colour effectively. This means it is not identified for recycling.

This is the next step in the retailer's commitment to not sell any own label product in black plastic packaging beyond 2019.

Waitrose & Partners has worked with its packaging supplier, Huhtamaki, to use the latest technology to make sure the trays can be heated in the oven and microwave.

All the retailer's own label packaging will be widely recycled, reusable or home compostable by 2025.

Karen Graley, Packaging Manager at Waitrose, says:

“Black plastic continues to be a challenge to recycle. This is why we see innovating in alternative materials as so important. If our trial is a success we'll be looking to roll it out further and this could potentially save millions of plastic trays going to landfill every year.

“Customer feedback from the June trial has been really positive with shoppers asking where the fibre based trays went after the trial ended.

“Ready meals have historically used a great deal of black plastic - but hopefully this will be the beginning of the end for this hard to recycle form of packaging.''

Demand for vegan food is rising so rapidly that it has become the UK's fastest growing culinary trend of 2018.

In the last year sales of chilled vegan foods at Tesco have soared by 25 per cent, helping to swell the UK meat free market to £310 million.

Now, to meet the soaring demand, Tesco is more than doubling its Wicked Kitchen plant-based food range which it launched earlier this year.

Included in the 26-piece new range are Wicked Kitchen's own crafted pies, 'sausage' rolls, sourdough pizzas, chilled desserts and deli foods:

  • All The Rage Rolls (kale, mushroom and garlic in flaky puff pastry)
  • Packed Puff Pie (roasted cauliflower and oyster mushrooms in brandy gravy)
  • Pesto Lasagne
  • Charred Pineapple Dream Cake
  • Spicy Mushroom and Veg Sourdough Pizza
The label was created by Tesco's pioneering chef and head of plant-based innovation Derek Sarno whose mission is to convert meat eaters to vegan food.

Tesco Product Development Director Kate Ewart said:

“We know from our own data that flexitarianism is on the rise and many more customers are dabbling in cutting out meat for a day or so during their weekly diet.

“With the new range we're now hoping to attract an even wider audience including customers looking for on-the-go delicious snacks such as a plant based sausage roll, pie or pasty as well as dessert lovers.”

The first batch of the 26 new Wicked Kitchen lines will be launched on Monday October 15. More will be launched in November and December in time for Christmas.

Derek Sarno said:

This is a dream come true for us.  When we launched Wicked Kitchen back in January, the response was just phenomenal.  We're excited to be able to announce the expansion of the range today. 

“At the start of the year, I said that veganism was going mainstream, and – as plant-based options are taking over the supermarket shelves – that belief is fast becoming a reality.

“Thank you so much to everyone who has bought and loved Wicked Kitchen food. I can't wait for you to try these new items too.”

The new range follows the successful launches of ground-breaking products by European plant-based food brands Oumph! and Vivera earlier this year.

Cornish artisan confectioner Buttermilk is launching its newest snack bar – an all butter bar of crumbly caramel sea salt fudge enrobed in Belgian milk chocolate!

The new snack bars are now available at BP forecourts, WHSmith and independent retailers across the whole of the UK, making them the perfect on-the-go treat for motorists and commuters.

The new bars are wrapped in a compostable cellulose wrapper which do not pollute the environment. Buttermilk has strived to find a new non-plastic wrapper made of plant-based materials that is hard-wearing, yet sustainable.

When the fudge has been enjoyed, the wrapper can be placed into a home compost bin and will decompose within 26 weeks at ambient temperature.

The new bars are a premium addition to the trend for 'on-the-go' snacking and join Buttermilk's line-up of more than 60 flavours which range from clotted cream to Cornish Gin and Earl Grey tea. The family-run firm's award-winning treats are still created using traditional recipes and methods at the company's production kitchen near Bodmin Moor.

Buttermilk managing director Tracy McDonnell Goad said: “Sustainability is an important part of Buttermilk's ethos and we were keen to find a plastic-free solution so that customers can enjoy an on-the-go treat, knowing that the packaging will not end up in the oceans. Being based in Cornwall means we're surrounded by beaches so we see first-hand the importance of incorporating environmentally-sustainable packaging materials. We very much believe customers will agree with us that this is a step in the right direction.”

Londoners will have the chance to discover Macanese cuisine - one of the world's first fusion foods – through a guest chef residency at the award-winning Carousel restaurant in Marylebone from 9th to 13th October. Chef Antonieta 'Neta' Fernandes Manhão, a specialist in Macanese cuisine from Macao, will be working alongside the Carousel team to bring the unique cuisine of Macao to life through a menu inspired by the traditional Macanese Cha Gordo ('fat tea').

Chef Neta is committed to preserving the unique culinary heritage of this fascinating destination, just 40 miles from Hong Kong across the Pearl River Delta. For her week at Carousel, Chef Neta will be preparing traditional recipes like Minchi, a classic dish of sautéed minced pork and beef whose name is said to derive from the English word 'mince', and Casquinha de Caranguejo (crab meat baked in its shell with olives, spring onion, turmeric and breadcrumbs).

Macanese cuisine reflects Macao's unique history and Portuguese maritime culture. During the 16th and 17th centuries, Portuguese merchants brought exotic spices and flavours to Macao from Africa, India and South East Asia - including curry, coconut milk and cinnamon. These were incorporated, along with local Chinese ingredients and culinary techniques, into traditional Portuguese dishes, giving birth to the uniquely delicious Macanese cuisine of today.  In 2017, Macao was recognised by UNESCO as a Creative City of Gastronomy.

Macao is one of Asia's most fascinating destinations, with its exciting mix of east and west, old and new.  Along with its renowned gastronomic scene, including 18 Michelin-starred restaurants, Macao highlights include the World Heritage-listed Historic Centre, world class nightlife and entertainment and a year-round programme of colourful events and festivals. It makes the perfect two- or three-night addition to a Far East holiday or stopover en route “Down Under”.

Eversfield Organic, one of Devon's most visionary food producers, is opening its first farm shop and deli at 2 West Street, in the centre of Tavistock, on Tuesday 16th October. It will provide a one-stop shop for everyone who really cares about what they and their family eat and believes organic is best. The deli will provide a hub for the local community to enjoy food produced locally and sustainably.

The Eversfield business - motto 'Enjoy Food - Enjoy Life' - has enjoyed huge success in recent years providing organic food boxes, which are delivered all over the UK. The Bury family farm, just a few miles from the market town of Tavistock, provides organic meat, raised on grass to the highest welfare standards. Gradually fish, vegetables, fruit, larder, bakery and deli products were added to the Eversfield offering, wherever possible organic, and Eversfield became what it is today: an amazing online emporium of the finest foods produced in the South West.

This month Eversfield celebrates its online success by opening its first shop, in the prosperous market town of Tavistock.  Although the West Country is famed for its fantastic offering of artisanal produce, Eversfield's farm shop is exceptional in that all produce is certified organic, bar fish and game where sources of wild produce is preferable.  Although many shops in the West Country offer organic produce, Eversfield is exceptional in that almost everything on sale is organic.

Mark Bury, who grew up in Yelverton, left the city life in 2002 to pursue his dream of farming in Devon, comments: 'The shop is a natural development of the Eversfield Organic vision. When we arrived at Ellacott [the family farm in Bratton Clovelly] we spent two back-breaking years bringing the land - which had been intensively farmed - back to fertility.  For me and my family, organic means the best for our own health, the animals we keep and the health of our soil and wildlife.”

Customers who wish to enjoy the results of Eversfield's 'enlightened farming' can now spend time browsing in the Tavistock shop. This is much more than a standard farm shop/deli. You can do all your shopping here in the one place, as well as linger and hang out in a relaxed and mindful atmosphere.

  • A major draw will be the butchery counter, showcasing Eversfield's multi-award-winning range of organic fresh and cured meats. Often something new, and always seasonal. Look out especially for Eversfield Organic's multi-award winning steaks and pork roasts. You'll also know exactly which farm each cut has come from each day for 100% traceability.
  • Fresh fruit and vegetables, sourced locally wherever possible, and all organic.
  • Baker Tom's breads, including sourdough and spelt loaves.
  • Coffee bar, serving Owens organic coffee, roasted in Ivybridge. Join the battle on single use and bring your own mug to have in or take away.
  • Wonderful organic cheeses, both regional and international, plus olives and charcuterie to fill your sharing platters.
  • Freshly prepared 'Soul Bowls' to go, nutritious lunches packed with flavor, made with 100% organic produce.
  • Carefully curated section of larder staples, such as organic oils, pasta and rice.
  • A wine cave - one of the few places in the West Country offering 100% organic wines.
  • Wild game in season - wild rather than organic, to ensure the animal has lived as freely and naturally as possible.
  • Fresh fish - again, wild rather than organic, sourced from a family run sustainable fishing business in St Ives, Cornwall.
The shop has been designed to be a beautiful space in which to shop and relax. Wooden and stone surfaces provide touch-me texture, and white paintwork echoes the Eversfield philosophy - clean, pure, natural. It is a very contemporary look, and one which decorators and lifestyle magazines are beginning to latch onto, dubbing it the 'New Rustic' or 'Farm Chic'.

While much of Eversfield Organic's growing fan base will continue to opt for home delivery, the shop will bring under one roof everything that has made the brand famous and won it so many awards over the years. In early September Eversfield Organic's 'Roam and Relish' Honey Smoked Streaky Bacon won Champion Bacon at the Taste of the West Awards. Honey Smoked Streaky (184g/£4.97), Traditional Ham Slices and Honey Roast Ham Slices (both 100g/£3.95) are now being stocked in 16 branches of Waitrose, and other meat and deli products can be found at selected outlets in the South West and London.

'Our arrival in Tavistock is a natural development for Eversfield,' comments Mark Bury, 'but it doesn't stop there. We see the shop as a springboard for our business, and the Eversfield team has all sorts of ideas in development, including one-off events and a series of pop-up dinners. Christmas is a really important time for us - our organic hams and turkeys are incredibly popular - and we are looking forward to the chance of meeting our customers in person, and making new friends to add to our flourishing online community.'

Tesco has today announced further ways to make it simpler for customers to recycle and reuse plastic packaging, and stepped up its commitment to move to a closed loop packaging system. It also calls on Government to introduce a consistent nation-wide approach to recycling.

To encourage customers to recycle plastic bottles, Tesco has today begun trialling in-store recycling machines, which will pay customers for every plastic bottle returned. The trial will take place at selected stores in Borehamwood, Swansea, Edinburgh, Manchester and Birmingham. The first machine opens for customers in Borehamwood today (27 September) and will pay 10p for bottles returned.

In addition, from 3 October customers will be able to reuse their own multi-use plastic containers when they buy meat, cheese or fish from deli and fish counters in UK stores. Instead of using single-use plastic bags, products will be weighed and wrapped in recyclable paper then placed inside the customer's container with the price label placed on the paper.

Earlier this year Tesco announced its intention to simplify the number of materials it used in packaging to help improve the ease and rate of recyclability. It also highlighted the challenges of having different collection schemes in different local authority areas making it costly and confusing for customers to recycle.

Jason Tarry, UK and ROI CEO said:

“We are already committed to eliminating single use plastic wherever we can and make recycling simpler for customers. Today is another step in that direction

“However, we know that it is going to take retailers, manufacturers and government to work together to make progress. We would urge the government to move to a single, nationwide approach to waste collection that makes it much easier for people to recycle.”

London's leading healthy eating chain Abokado today announced that it has received 5 star ratings by the Food Standards Agency (FSA), at every one of its 23 stores across London.

The ratings, graded from zero to five, are determined by local authority food safety officers, with a rating of five being the highest and showing that the business has the highest possible food hygiene standards.

Kara Alderin, Operations Director at Abokado, said: “We could not be prouder of this achievement. Food hygiene is of the utmost importance to Abokado and of course to our customers. To have a full house of 5 stars is a great accolade, in what is a technical business with a complex HACCP system.  It's all down to the dedication of our teams, and precise guidance and support through VG Technical.”

Dr Vesna Greaves, Abokado's Food Safety Consultant from VG Technical Ltd, said: “Our company works with many other clients in the food industry and for a business to receive a 5 star rating across the board is almost unheard of. It requires an enormous amount of work and education across the company.  With Abokado, a sushi and sashimi based business, we take an innovative approach to food safety and technology, working in partnership with our Primary authority, London Borough of Newham.”

Around three million meals going meat-free.

Thousands of children have returned to school for the new academic year to new-look menus. A range of healthier, more sustainable meat-free menu options have been introduced as part of the new School Plates programme launched by food awareness organisation ProVeg UK earlier this summer.

A total of 110 primary schools across two local authorities in England have been working on new menus in collaboration with ProVeg UK ahead of their launch this term. Changes include the adoption of Meat-Free Mondays, new daily meat-free meals, and new descriptions for the meat-free and plant-based dishes to make them even more appealing to the students.

“We all want children to thrive and these new-look, healthier menus are a big step in the right direction. Eating more plant-based foods is such a great way to improve children's health in the short term - particularly by helping to reduce childhood obesity - and also in the long term by helping to reduce the risk of all kinds of chronic health conditions including heart disease and type 2 diabetes,” said Jimmy Pierson, Director of ProVeg UK.

“It's so important that children establish healthy eating patterns at an early age - and schools play a key role in this. The fact that plant-based foods are better for the environment and are also cheaper, meaning they can ease the burden on the school budget, makes them a win-win in our minds - and those of a growing number of local authorities!” Pierson added.

Over the next 12-month period, around 3.1 million meat-based meals will now become meat-free - based on commitments from the schools and local authorities currently engaging with School Plates. This is despite ProVeg UK's programme having only been running for a few months.

One school taking part in the programme is Washingborough Academy in Lincolnshire. On School Plates, Headteacher Jason O'Rourke said: “I think School Plates is fantastic, really commendable. It is superb that we are highlighting the benefit of vegetables and giving children greater exposure to that. I would implore all schools, if the can, to get engaged with ProVeg UK and School Plates.”

Many more local authorities and primary schools are set to follow suit next term with new enquiries coming in on a weekly basis. As each new local authority takes up the School Plates programme, millions more meals are changed giving more children access to a healthier, more balanced diet.

“We are thrilled with the level of interest and engagement so far, and it just goes to show that there is real appetite for improving the meal provision within schools. When it comes to improving children's health, helping the planet and saving money all at the same time, there is no better time than now,” said Amy Odene, School Plates Manager for ProVeg UK.

From today, Waitrose & Partners customers can have their food and drink delivered straight to their door within two hours or on the same day for the first time as part of a new trial.

The supermarket has teamed up with On the dot, the last mile retail delivery startup*, to launch 'Waitrose Rapid Delivery' in selected London postcodes (SW5, SW6 , SW10, WC1, WC2, EC1, CR5 and CR8).

Customers in these areas will be able to choose up to 20 items from more than 1,500 products at

Before completing their order they will be given the option to receive their shopping within two hours of placing the order or to specify a one-hour time slot on the same day. There is a £10 minimum spend and a £5 charge will apply for using either service.

All products will be hand–picked and prepared for delivery by Waitrose Partners before being collected and delivered by On the dot.

The trial is designed to respond to the increase in customers shopping 'as and when'. According to research carried out for the Waitrose Food Report 2017/18, two thirds of us regularly or occasionally visit a supermarket more than once a day. This trend is particularly prevalent among 18-to 24-year olds who are twice as likely to regularly visit a supermarket twice a day as the over-55s.

Using On the dot cargo bikes as well as vans to make deliveries is predicted to save up to four tonnes of GHG emissions a year.

Richard Ambler, Head of Business Development at Waitrose & Partners, says:

“Customers are increasingly wanting to buy whatever they want when they want it. For many, we have moved away from the weekly supermarket visit to give us more fluidity with our busy lives and give us better control against over-buying and waste. Our trips to the supermarket are therefore much more frequent - Waitrose Rapid Delivery ensures we give our customers even greater flexibility and convenience to get their shopping as and when they want it.”

Santosh Sahu, CEO at On the dot, adds:

“The grocery sector is undergoing its biggest shift for decades – one where convenience and immediacy will win. Customers are shifting away from the routine of the big weekly shop – instead, time-poor and convenience-driven consumers are opting for ultra-fast deliveries of small baskets at a time that suits them. Customers want to take back control and remain informed on the status of their deliveries in real-time. Waitrose & Partners has always put the customer first and this partnership recognises the influence that delivery has on a customer's shopping experience. On the dot enhance this customer experience by delivering great quality food to customers' front doors. We are very excited to be partnering with one of the UK's leading retailers and can't wait to help Waitrose provide the rapid service its customers want.”

It's one of the messiest and potentially dangerous kitchen chores – slicing and scooping out the flesh from an avocado.

But at last help is at hand – Tesco is exclusively launching the world's first ever avocado that easily pulls away from its skin once cut in half.

The fruit, EasyAvo, is grown in South Africa and will go on sale tomorrow in an initial trial to gauge its popularity.

It should go some way to help the growing number of Brits who reportedly suffer 'avocado hand' after cutting themselves accidentally when opening the fruit.

Tesco avocado buyer Laura Marsden Payne said:

“Last year customers bought nearly 60 million avocados from us, so we're sure that this fantastic avocado will minimalise fuss and make life a little bit easier.”

The EasyAvo, developed by key Tesco supplier Westfalia Fruit, is a naturally grown hybrid of different avocado varieties.

The variety was brought to the UK by Tesco's regional sourcing team, who work closely with growers at source.

It has a thicker and corkier consistency to its skin, which gives it an almost shell-like appearance when compared to other popular varieties like Fuerte and Hass.

Laura Marsden Payne explained:

“As the fruit ripens and moisture loss occurs in the process, the thicker, corkier skin separates more easily from the fruit flesh, compared to the thinner and more pliable skin of a Fuerte or Hass.”

This is the first year that growers have produced enough to support a trial, and quantity will be limited.

To discover how Tesco's products are changing to meet the demands of today's customer, look no further than the dairy aisle.

Tesco has launched and revamped 350 dairy products providing customers with an improved range, healthier options and more choice – including those with a specific dietary requirement.

Cheese lovers will be pleased to see an extended Finest selection. A Vintage Coastal Bite Cheddar and Red Leicester Bite will be stocked, alongside a Wensleydale with Cranberries and Blueberries. For customers who like a spicy kick on their cheese board, a new Finest Red Leicester with Chipotle and Peppercorns is the perfect choice.  Yogurt connoisseurs will be impressed by an expanded choice of Finest Greek Yoghurt with both Espresso and Honey recipes added to complement the existing 10% and 0% Fat Greek Yogurt.

The range of cheeses has also been expand further with a new paneer, comte and manchego.

Tesco has also introduced a number of healthier dairy products as a part of its efforts to help customers live healthier lives. When reformulating, Tesco has committed to make products healthier, as long as the taste and quality is improved or, at the very least, maintained. As a result, many of the retailer's new yoghurts now contain less sugar, which will help the retailer meet Public Health England's 2020 goals.

The selection of new, healthier products now includes a 50% less fat mature cheese, ideal for cheese lovers with its rich, savoury flavour but half the fat content of standard cheddar. A Strawberry Quark has also been introduced for customers looking for high protein. Customers will see new, smaller 200 gram portions of zero fat yogurts to help customers control portions and prevent food waste.

Tesco has also made more products accessible for customers with a dietary requirement. Sunflower and olive spreads will become vegan friendly. The lactose free range has been extended with a lactose free semi-skimmed dairy milk. Made from cow's milk, it has the taste of dairy without the side effects associated by lactose intolerance.

Tesco has also taken a “little help” approach to pack design. All blocks of cheddar can now be opened and resealed. Scissors or a knife are no longer required​. And many of its Finest cheese range have being moved into re-sealable trays to help keep cheeses fresher for longer in the fridge

Tesco's Product Development Director, Kate Ewart said:“Customers will soon find a number of new products in our dairy aisle. Some have less sugar, making it easier for customers to live healthier lives. There are more options for vegans or customers with an intolerance. We've also made changes to the pack design, making them a little easier for customers to enjoy.”