GLASS HALF FULL: meals matched and ingredients tracked

Our latest roundup of worthy initiatives features two smaller players with a big appetite for making a difference.

Transparency tracker. The threat to food safety posed by Brexit is well known to policy makers who are busy scrambling to plug gaps once the UK loses full access to EU risk management systems.

One Cotswolds supermarket has taken matters emphatically into its own hands by actively delisting food and drink brands that refuse to have their ingredient supply chains audited and published for public scrutiny.

The Midcounties Co-operative in Bourton-on-the-Water, Gloucestershire, is making it mandatory for every food and drink brand across its entire “Best of our Counties” range to prove where they source their ingredients from in a bid to deliver consumer transparency through the food chain.

The retailer, in partnership with traceability specialist Happerley, is using provenance-scanning technology at the point of sale that allows customers to scan a QR code on their smartphones using the Happerley app to see the journey the product has taken from field to shelf.

The supermarket says it has experienced “a flood of customers” wanting to use the technology, which is due to be rolled out across hundreds of Midcounties Co-operative stores in future.

Recipe box results. The recipe box market is booming with the likes of Gousto and Hello Fresh delivering stellar growth in both sales and subscribers. At the more premium end of the market we find Mindful Chef, with its focus on well-balanced plant-based meat or fish recipes that are gluten-free, dairy-free and contain no refined carbs. And the brand has another unique selling point: for every meal sold the company donates a school meal to a child living in poverty.

Earlier this year, Mindful Chef achieved its target of donating one million school meals via its partnership with the charity One Feeds Two, the equivalent to feeding 5,000 children through an entire academic year.

The guarantee of regular school meals allows children to attend school rather than work, scavenge or beg for food, and helps children concentrate better in class, according to the company.

It also claims the “one for one” model has had a positive impact on local farming families in school feeding programme countries like Malawi by using locally grown food. If the meal kit market continues to grow at its current rate the prospects for matching a million more meals look bright.

Creating meals from waste. Closer to home, but still on the theme of charitable meal provision, Bidfood development chefs have been busy hosting skills sessions and cookery demonstrations for charities and not-for-profit organisations across the UK.

Five Bidfood chefs are donating their time and skills as part of the company’s Chef for a Day campaign, which gives volunteers and cooks inspiration on how to be more innovative with surplus food donated by the charity FareShare.

The chefs recently ran sessions in Manchester, Glasgow, West Berkshire, East Midlands and Birmingham with the aim of helping people create easily adaptable and nutritious recipes on a low budget, as well as how to make the most of short-dated stock.

They also created buffet feasts for more than 100 people from low-income households, as well as those in rehabilitation, with a choice of meals ranging from creamy risottos and hearty winter stews, to vegan breakfast bowls and modern Indian treats.

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