FOODSERVICE COMPANIES are being challenged on milk prices. The spotlight so far has been fixed firmly on retailers but in the past day or so farming unions, ministers and, less surprisingly, retailers now want catering companies to open the books on what they pay for milk. Tensions along the dairy supply chain are close to breaking point, with demonstrations across the country following milk price cuts. Farming unions having called an emergency summit for Monday. The British Retail Consortium said its members are not to blame. “Customers can challenge other food outlets – hospitality, catering, manufacturers and even their schools and hospitals – on how they are supporting British farmers. If they all took the same approach as retailers to sourcing and support it would help alleviate some of the current problem.”
HYGIENE STANDARDS when eating out is the top food safety issue for consumers. Almost one in two people (48%) reported concern about food safety in UK restaurants, pubs, cafes and takeaways, according to the Food Standard Agency’s biannual public attitudes tracker. Asked how they determined the standards of hygiene in an outlet, more people used the appearance of staff (46%) than hygiene certificates (42%) or stickers (32%). However, the number referring to certificates and stickers has increased markedly since 2010. More widely, top concerns included the amount of sugar and salt in food (51% and 47% respectively) and food waste (49%).
FOOD MANUFACTURERS are struggling with industry-wide food waste targets. According to survey of 500 UK manufacturers a “meagre” 36% are hitting the 2015 target set by the Food and Drink Federation to send no waste to landfill. FDF members are working towards zero waste to landfill by 2015 as part of the organisation’s Five-fold Environmental Ambition. The picture was a little better in terms of carbon emissions: 52% have met reduction targets in the past year, according to the study published by Food Manufacture magazine. Four out of five (79%) said they were compliant with the new Food Information for Consumers Regulation, whilst 74% expect tougher regulation on fat, salt and sugar from the new government.
THE SUNDAY Times this week reported on the food labels that are confusing consumers by “disguising” added sugar levels. Campaigners said the information on packs are “meaningless”, showing percentages of an adult’s recommended intake based on total sugar levels rather than the new stricter limits on added sugar. Last month the Scientific Advisory Committee on Nutrition (SACN) advised the government to halve the recommended intake of free sugars to 5% to help address the growing obesity and diabetes crises and to reduce the risk of tooth decay. Free sugars are those added to food or those naturally present in honey, syrups and unsweetened fruit juices, but exclude lactose in milk and milk products. Manufacturers told the newspaper their hands were tied by European labelling laws.
FROM CONFUSED consumers to contradictory ones. Asda’s Green Britain Index, compiled through a survey of 20,000 shoppers, has found that nine in 10 people care about environmental issues and 72% even say the “green aspect” of a product affects their buying decisions. A closer look at the results, however, shows that price and quality (61%) are far and away the biggest factors – eco labels (6%) and green aspect (3%) come way down the list. This delicate balance between what shoppers say they’ll do and what they actually do is often referred to as the 30:3 phenomenon in academic circles: 30% of people describe themselves as ethical purchasers and yet ethical products rarely achieve more than 3% market share. Asda is implementing a number of changes to try and tackle one of the biggest areas of concern for its customers – food waste.