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Prime Minister declares UK one of the most open countries in Europe and ready for an international tourism boom

UK is safe and open for visitors with no testing for fully vaccinated tourists

  • 2022 to be a blockbuster year for the nation, with Her Majesty The Queen’s Platinum Jubilee, the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games and Unboxed: Creativity in the UK
  • PM rallying cry comes as VisitBritain launches £10 million campaign to encourage international tourists to visit

Prime Minister Boris Johnson today calls on international tourists to visit the UK and enjoy the sights and sounds of one of the most open countries in Europe.

As testing and quarantine restrictions end for fully vaccinated visitors, the UK is ready to welcome visitors from around the globe for a blockbuster year of events showcasing the breadth of culture, creativity and innovation on offer, including Her Majesty The Queen’s Platinum Jubilee, the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games and Unboxed: Creativity in the UK.

It comes ahead of a new VisitBritain £10 million international marketing campaign targeting the UK’s most valuable visitor markets of Europe and the USA which will launch in February.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson said:

Thanks to the phenomenal success of our booster campaign and the extraordinary efforts of the public, the UK is officially one of the most open countries in Europe and ready to welcome visitors from across the globe.

The UK is home to thousands of world class attractions, unbeatable hospitality and incredible history and culture. 2022 also promises a host of unmissable events – from Her Majesty’s Jubilee to the Commonwealth Games.

Now is a fantastic time to book a trip and enjoy the best the UK has to offer.

Culture Secretary Nadine Dorries said:

There is huge pent up demand from international tourists to visit the UK and my message is clear: our brilliant tourism, hospitality and leisure businesses are ready and waiting to welcome people back.

2022 is set to be a blockbuster year with an unmissable opportunity to see world-class sports in the Commonwealth Games, culture and creativity through the Unboxed events and royal pageantry as we mark the Queen’s 70-year reign.

Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said:

We made the right calls at the right time and thanks to our vaccine and booster rollout it’s paying off – allowing us to safely remove nearly all COVID-19 travel restrictions for vaccinated travellers.

We already have one of the most open economies in Europe with the least restrictions, and because of these changes we now have a travel sector to match it.

This final step in our stable and safe full return to international travel is a major boost for UK tourism, setting Britain free ahead of the crucial half term and spring holiday season.

VisitBritain’s multi-million pound campaign will spotlight cities across the UK including London, Edinburgh and Cardiff which have been hit hard by the lack of international visitors.

It will encourage visitors to see another side of Britain promoting new and exciting experiences such as kayaking on London’s iconic River Thames, Edinburgh’s famous Fringe Festival and sampling some of the world’s finest gins at Cardiff Distillery.

VisitBritain CEO Sally Balcombe said:

We know there is pent up demand for travel and our priority is to build back demand for Britain and visitor spending as quickly as possible, competing hard for international visitors who contribute billions to our economy.

As well as messages of welcome and reassurance, we’re shining the spotlight on our vibrant and diverse cities. Telling the stories of our renowned heritage with a modern twist, our buzzing contemporary culture and innovative food and drink scene, we are showing that Britain is packed full of fresh and exciting experiences to come and see today.

This year’s landmark events, set to be global tourism draws, also present exciting and timely opportunities to highlight once-in-a-lifetime experiences that visitors can only have here, and to promote our welcome and creativity to the world.

VisitBritain’s campaign will build on the government’s ambitious Tourism Recovery Plan published in June 2021 which aims to get domestic and international tourism back to pre-pandemic levels a year faster than independent forecasts predict.

The government has backed tourism, hospitality and leisure organisations through the pandemic with more than £37 billion in funding and support.

This includes the ongoing cut to VAT, furlough and 100 per cent business rates relief for leisure, retail and hospitality businesses which have saved thousands of jobs and prevented many business closures. The Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme at its peak supported 87 per cent of hospitality and entertainment businesses and a UK-wide VAT cut for the tourism sectors from 20 per cent to 5 per cent was in place until September 2021. It will remain at 12.5 per cent until the end of March 2022 to provide ongoing support for businesses.


Coronavirus pandemic could cost global tourism $2 trillion this year

The coronavirus pandemic will likely cost the global tourism sector $2 trillion in lost revenue in 2021, the UN’s tourism body said Monday, calling the sector’s recovery “fragile” and “slow.”

Despite recent improvements, the report warned that demand for travel could be further affected by “uneven vaccination rates around the world and new COVID-19 strains which had prompted new travel restrictions in some countries.

In the past few days, the emergence of the Omicron variant has led dozens of countries to reinstate restrictions on arrivals, or to delay relaxation in COVID-19 travel and testing rules, leading to wide uncertainty for holiday season travellers worldwide.

Spikes in oil prices and the disruption of global supply chains have also had an effect. According to the latest UNWTO data, international tourist arrivals are expected to remain 70-75 per cent below 2019 levels in 2021, a similar decline as in 2020.

‘We cannot let our guard down’

Although a 58 per cent increase in tourist arrivals was registered in July-September of this year compared to the same period in 2020, this remained 64 per cent below 2019 levels, the UN body found.

In August and September, arrivals were at 63 per cent lower than 2019, which is the highest monthly result since the start of the coronavirus pandemic. Between January and September 2021, worldwide international tourist arrivals stood at 20 per cent lower, compared to 2020, a clear improvement from the 54 per cent drop, over the first six months of the year. 

“Data for the third quarter of 2021 is encouraging,” UNWTO Secretary-General Zurab Pololikashvili said. “However, arrivals are still 76 per cent below pre-pandemic levels and results across the different global regions remain uneven.”

In light of the rising cases and the emergence of new variants, he added that “we cannot let our guard down and need to continue our efforts to ensure equal access to vaccinations, coordinate travel procedures, make use of digital vaccination certificates to facilitate mobility, and continue to support the sector.”

Uneven recovery

Despite the improvement seen in the third quarter of the year, the pace of recovery remains slow and uneven across world regions.

In some sub-regions, such as Southern and Mediterranean Europe, the Caribbean, North and Central America, arrivals actually rose above 2020 levels in the first nine months of 2021.

However, arrivals in Asia and the Pacific were down by as much as 95 per cent when compared with 2019, as many destinations remained closed to non-essential travel.

Africa and the Middle East recorded 74 per cent and 81 per cent drops respectively in the third quarter compared to 2019. Among the larger destinations, Croatia, Mexico and Turkey showed the strongest recovery in the period of July to September.

Caribbean rebound

The Caribbean had the highest results of any of the subregions defined by the UNWTO, with arrivals up 55 per cent compared to 2020.

International tourist arrivals “rebounded” during the summer season in the Northern Hemisphere thanks to increased travel confidence, rapid vaccination and the easing of entry restrictions in many nations.

In Europe, the EU Digital Covid Certificate has helped facilitate free movement within the European Union, the report added.


Kid-free restaurant in Istanbul causes controversy

The owners of a restaurant in Istanbul have fuelled a discussion on social media as they refused a woman to enter with her child, saying, “We are a kid-free business.”

The woman targeted the restaurant on Twitter, blaming the owners of the business for “discrimination.”

Social media users, business owners and even the psychologists intervening in the discussion were divided into two, some supporting the idea of a kid-free restaurant, some opposing it.

“Children should go to bed by 10 p.m. Of course, you should not go to a restaurant with a kid at that hour. What is a child doing there at that hour?” Yeşim Akıncı, a psycologist, told daily Hürriyet on Aug. 20.

Arif Verimli, a prominent psychologist in the country, directly opposed the idea of a kid-free restaurant. “I find a world without children a little beastly and not chirpy. There may be people choosing a way of life without kids, but such a concept does not fit me,” he said.

Clinical psychologist Emre Konuk is on the side of people finding the discussion “weird.”

“As if there is only one restaurant in Turkey and it does not allow kids to enter,” he noted.

Another psychologist, Ozanser Uğurlu, raised the bar on the discussion, defending that the situation was a “cultural matter.”

“We have a children-based culture. We were nomads first, then with the start of agriculture, we settled. Just at this point, people saw children as an object that widens and keeps the family tight. Motherhood is sacred, so is childhood,” Uğurlu said.

When asked if he supported the owners of the kid-free restaurant, Uğurlu replied, “As parents with children face no problem for dining in any restaurant, some businesses may choose to ban kids.”

Other than children, he also blamed their parents. “A child will show its childhood anywhere. The problem is the parents. Some raise kids without limits and responsibilities.”

Defending the idea of a kid-free restaurant Akıncı said, “At restaurants, people smoke and drink alcohol. Also, there is loud airplay in the place… All these would badly affect kids.”

However, Verimli highlighted another bad effect of being rejected at the door of a restaurant.

“It is quite embarrassing not to be permitted to enter. Both for a mother and a child,” he defended.

Daily Hürriyet’s two columnists, Orkun Ün and Cihan Şensözlü, also participated in the discussion by being on the side of the restaurant.

Another columnist, Fulya Soybaş was on the woman’s side.

“The tranquility of public space can not be solved by disclaiming a child, a woman, or any other from a religion or a race,” she wrote on her column on Aug. 20.

Uğurlu admitted that he found the “discrimination” allegations “a little exaggerated.”

“Calling this event as ‘discrimination’ is overstepping the mark, isn’t it? As a result, a kid is not a race or gender,” he said.


Nando’s, a Chicken Chain Beloved in Britain, Struggles With Poultry Shortage

The restaurant has beguiled British palates for almost three decades. But a recent chicken shortage saw almost 50 stores temporarily close this last week.

LONDON — If Oliver Twist were to sing a modernized version of “Food, Glorious Food,” it could be re-appropriated as, “Nando’s, glorious Nando’s!”

Since the Johannesburg-based restaurant chain opened its first store in London in 1992, its signature peri peri chicken has enamored British consumers’ appetites.

Marinated with a variation of Afro-Portuguese spices, including lemon and herb for those with more sensitive palates, Nando’s hallowed flame-grilled chicken — which, it declares proudly on its website, is neither American nor chlorinated — is a British culinary institution.

But in the latest series of food shortages that have hit British supermarkets and restaurants — exacerbated by a perfect storm from the fallout with Brexit, a declining number of truck drivers, and the coronavirus pandemic — Nando’s announced on Tuesday that it had to temporarily close around 50 of its stores across England, Scotland, and Wales because of a shortage of chicken.

Across the country, British customers were greeted this week by signs posted onto the windows of gloomily empty branches. The source of the poultry catastrophe? Issues with the supply chain, according to a spokeswoman.

“The U.K. food industry has been experiencing disruption across its supply chain in recent weeks, due to staff shortages and Covid isolations, and a number of our restaurants have been impacted,” said Nando’s, in a response to The Times.

Nazish Zeb, 38, who lives in Solihull, the West Midlands, was forlorn, when her son arrived home on Wednesday, to break the news that their regular Nando’s branch in Birmingham — one of a handful in the city with halal chicken prepared according to Islamic guidelines — was temporarily closed. “I am a chicken lover,” she said in an interview. “It’s a shame, I can’t tell you how much we are missing out.”

Other disappointed customers took to Twitter to air their grievances, to which Nando’s responded apologetically that their supply chain was experiencing “a bit of a ’mare,” as in nightmare.

Among the culprits responsible is the ‘pingdemic,’ which has seen hundreds of thousands of people ‘pinged’ by a government-sponsored phone app since July, asking them to self-isolate for 10 days because they were in contact with someone who had tested positive. British supermarkets and businesses have borne the brunt of its consequences, with staff shortages and vacant shelves reported across the country.

Last Wednesday, KFC released a statement on Twitter, warning customers that some items might not be available because of unspecified “disruptions.”

“I remember when my local KFC ran out of chicken,” said a Nando’s employee, Saffi, describing the great chicken shortage of 2018, that caused rival KFC to close nearly two-thirds of its British branches because of similar issues with a new delivery contract. “I can understand people’s frustration.” Saffi asked to be identified by his first name only because he was not authorized to speak to the media.

“Luckily, the branch I work at, we’ve been running as normal,” he said. “The suppliers have had problems delivering products to us. It’s not like Nando’s have done something wrong.”

In England, where a third of its restaurants are, Nando’s appeal transcends class, boasting devotees including the actor, Dev Patel, Bella Hadid, and even Prince William.

“One of the interesting things about Nando’s, is that it reaches the restaurant-going demographic that almost none of the other high-street chains do,” says British food critic Jay Rayner. “It transcends race.”

“Cheeky Nando’s,” a popular phrase British consumers of Nando’s often use, is permanently embedded into British vernacular. The existence of a mythological Nando’s ‘black card’ — said to grant its possessors an unlimited Nando’s chicken supply — is gleefully speculated over by internet users. A Nando’s spokeswoman would neither confirm nor deny its existence.

“The proposition, grilled chicken, salads, chips, places it as one of the healthiest on the high street, if they got rid of those bottomless soft drinks,” said Mr. Rayner. “It’s brilliantly priced. They do it very, very well.”

It should come as little surprise, then, that numerous British publications have their own “homemade” recipes for peri peri chicken, though they are little consolation for those craving Nando’s.

The chicken shortage might not be just a temporary problem. Britain is struggling with a national shortage of truck drivers, and a shortage of workers in its meat industry. The coronavirus is part of the problem, but so are new immigration and paperwork rules that came into effect with Brexit. According to the Financial Times, around 60 percent of the U.K.’s poultry workers come from E.U. countries.

“The fact that it’s happened should take nobody by surprise,” says Mr. Rayner, who predicted a national food crisis in Britain’s supply-chain after Brexit, three years ago.

Nick Allen, chief executive of the British Meat Processors Association, which represents the majority of companies working in the red meat industry, said Brexit had left the country’s entire meat industry vulnerable because it reduced immigration.

“When Brexit happened on Jan. 1, 2021, access to most E.U. workers was switched off, abruptly,” he said. “Since then, many of the E.U. workers who were in the U.K. could not travel during Covid. A lot of them are now going back to their home country, but they’re not returning.”

On Thursday, The Guardian reported that Richard Griffiths, the chief executive of the British Poultry Council, had written a letter this month to the home secretary, Priti Patel, asking for the government to relax immigration rules.

Christmas preparations should already be underway in meat factories, but Mr. Allen said shortages are inevitable. With vacancy rates in meat factories now rising to 15 percent, a Christmas poultry crisis could be looming. “Currently, there’s limited staff for that, so we’re about six weeks behind.”

At least for now, there is some respite on the horizon. All of Nando’s restaurants are expected to reopen on Saturday.

Perhaps then, Britain’s Nando’s devotees can resume their love affair with a restaurant where, as British food writer Ruby Tandoh writes, one “could happily just order the same thing every time you come here until you die.”


Consumer wine knowledge in decline, finds new report

Wine drinkers no longer interested in having an an encyclopaedic knowledge of wine according to new Wine Intelligence research…

Consumers’ interest in learning about wine is on the wane, according to a new report by Wine Intelligence. The new research reveals that wine drinkers’ span of wine knowledge is gradually decreasing and they are less interested in learning about grape varieties, wine styles and wine producing regions.

This trend can be seen most clearly in markets such as the US, Brazil, Germany and Australia, where wine knowledge among consumers has decreased between 2019 and 2021.

UK bucks the trend

The UK, however, bucks the trend and is the only major market to see an increase in the ‘wine knowledge index’, which measures consumer-reported awareness of wine-producing countries, wine-growing regions and wine brands.

‘The wine industry has undoubtedly helped consumers to feel more confident both navigating and enjoying wine, without the need to bring with them an encyclopaedic knowledge,’ says Wine Intelligence’s CEO Lulie Halstead.

‘Wine consumers are being helped by the fact that many of today’s wine labels are both visually appealing and highly successful at explicitly communicating the flavours and tastes inherent to a particular brand,’ she adds.

In contrast to these findings, the report also states that consumer confidence with wine remains stable, which means that instead of relying on wine knowledge to inform their buying decisions consumers are taking their wine-buying cues from elsewhere.

Cognitive offloading

‘A significant contributing factor is ‘cognitive offloading’, says the report. ‘While wine knowledge is being accessed, it is not necessarily being retained, leading to an overall reduction in retained consumer wine knowledge. The wealth of online sources of wine information, easily and rapidly accessible via a smartphone, are enabling buyers to purchase with confidence, without the need to retain hard facts.’

Halstead says that an increasing number of consumers want to quickly access information on the go and eschew deep dives into winemaking stories in favour of simple messaging and layered information. ‘Confidence has become uncoupled with knowledge in recent years, creating a more inclusive wine category – a key necessity if it is to retain market share against challenges from craft beer and RTDs,’ she says.


The Best Of Vietnam Tourism: Top Food From Every Region

Vietnam tourism has significantly gained in popularity over the last few years. And why not? Haunting landscapes, jewel-studded waters, the romance of a pastoral life and impressive architecture – for those struck with wanderlust, Vietnam is paradise. But if you were to consider Vietnam visits worthy merely for its natural beauty, or cultural heritage, you’d be doing the country a disservice. Because, Vietnam tourism is incomplete without trying the food of Vietnam!

Vietnam Tourism: What you need to know about the food

Vietnamese cuisine, one the healthiest in the world, is all about freshness, and many chefs shop twice a day for ingredients. The real appeal lies in the balance of flavors and according to ForbesHo Chi Minh city, formerly known as Saigon, is one the 10 best places in the world for street food.

The Best Of Vietnam Tourism: Top Food From Every Region
A vegetable market in Hanoi

Each region has a dish they make especially well.

Despite heavy historical and geographical influences, the cuisine is unique to Vietnam. It’d be a shame to miss out on local delicacies, which add that little bit extra to your Vietnam experience.

Vietnam Tourism: What you should eat in the North 

China has certainly left its mark in the north – the love for noodle soups and stir fries all comes from the Chinese. If you’re not very fond of spicy food you’re going to love the food in Hanoi! Pepper is about the only spice northerners indulge in.

The Best Of Vietnam Tourism: Top Food From Every Region
There is no way that you can be in Vietnam and avoid Pho, often called the ‘national dish of Vietnam’.

The aroma of freshly cooked Pho (noodle soup) wafts in from almost every busy street in Hanoi. You’ll find hundreds of people seated on plastic chairs in front of street-side restaurants every morning, sipping from their soup bowls.

Try Pho – a simple salty broth, with rice noodles, beef (popular in the north) or chicken, and fresh herbs.

Sample delicious grilled pork for lunch, served with vermicelli rice and called Bún chả. Just follow the heady aroma to the smoky grill of any street-side shop and you’ll find patrons in front of restaurants, hungrily wolfing down mouthfuls of this dish. It’s quite a favorite in Hanoi!

The Best Of Vietnam Tourism: Top Food From Every Region
A street-side restaurant in Hanoi, Vietnam.

Tip: You’ll probably want to avoid dog meat, or even cat, both of which are rather popular in the north.

Vietnam Tourism: The best of the central districts

The people of Central Vietnam love spicier cuisine. In Hue, food is cooked elaborately and the dishes are very colorful. The main course is served with many sides, like in an Imperial banquet – a hangover from the Imperial days of yore.

Try the Bánh khoai, a stuffed crepe made of rice flour, cooked with turmeric and pan fried to perfection.

You can find delicious Banh khoai everywhere in Hue, but we recommend the ubiquitous street carts for some authentic flavors.

The Best Of Vietnam Tourism: Top Food From Every Region
If the lantern-lit beauty of Hoi An’s streets doesn’t take your breath away, the Cao lầu that’s a specialty here, certainly will!

Cao lầu ismade only with water drawn from the thousand year old Ba Le well. This dish is an incredible mixture of many different cuisines – the thick noodles remind you of Japanese Udon and the wonton crackers are typical of the Chinese; but it’s the herbs and the broth that make this dish unique to Vietnam!

The Best Of Vietnam Tourism: Top Food From Every Region
Cao Lau in Hoi An, Vietnam

Tip: Try your hand at cooking a local delicacy in one of the many cooking schools of Hoi AnClick here to read more and book yourself a cooking class.

Vietnam Tourism: What to eat in the South

Ho Chi Minh City in the south boasts of delicious cuisine, distinctly different from all other regions. French colonization has left its mark on Ho Chi Minh City and you will find lovely boulevards and coffee shops around every corner. The Bánh mì – much like a stuffed baguette, is an obvious leftover from the colonial era.

The Best Of Vietnam Tourism: Top Food From Every Region
The Pork Bánh mì Sandwich is very popular in Saigon.

The Bánh xèo is a great way to keep hunger at bay while you drift through the floating markets of Saigon. These are pancakes fried with a heap of things, and wrapped in lettuce and herbs.

In the warm, tropical south, people prefer their food sweeter.

The Mekong Delta is the world’s second largest producer of rice, often called the ‘rice bowl of Vietnam’, and it’s no surprise that the southerners prefer rice to noodles. Seafood is very popular here thanks to the extensive coastline, as are tropical fruits.

The Best Of Vietnam Tourism: Top Food From Every Region
Fishermen at work in the Mekong Delta of Vietnam.

In the Mekong Delta, the Canh chua, which literally means ‘sour soup’, is very popular. Made from fresh fish from the delta in a tamarind flavored broth, it’s like an explosion of flavors in your mouth, in a good way of course!


Food Waste Management Innovations In The Foodservice Industry

By Carlos Martin-Rios, Associate Professor at Ecole hôtelière de Lausanne (EHL)

An insight into what food waste really means and the processes that create it. Reducing food loss is a global, multidimensional challenge, so what can the foodservice industry specifically do to be more mindful of its role in the food value chain?

The current state of food wastage

On September 29, the world celebrated the 1st International Day of the Food Loss and Waste. This was a good opportunity to emphasize the importance of reducing food waste (FW) as a key sustainability challenge for the hospitality and foodservice industry. FW epitomizes an unsustainable system of food production and consumption. A recent report by the Boston Consulting Group (BCG) calculates that the amount of food wasted each year will rise by a third by 2030, “when 2.1 billion tons will either be lost or thrown away, equivalent to 66 tons per second”.

Food wastage appears to be higher in developed countries, while on the other hand, there are an estimated 842 million people in poor countries experiencing chronic hunger. According to Oxfam, the current pandemic has deepened the hunger crisis and “by the end of the year, 12,000 people per day could die from hunger linked to COVID-19, potentially more than will die from the disease itself”. Ten countries top the list of hunger spots (Figure) accounting for 65% people living in crisis level hunger.

Food Waste Management Innovations In The Foodservice Industry
Figure 1: Countries and regions where the food crisis is most severe (Oxfam, 2020) — Photo: EHL

According to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), FW is defined as food which is fit for consumption but discarded by choice or because has been left to spoil or expire, with ‘food’ referring to “whether processed, semi-processed or raw edible products going to human consumption.”

Food Waste Management Innovations In The Foodservice Industry
Food loss/waste — Photo: EHL

The fact that FW is perceived as amounting, yet avoidable, the challenge has driven the United Nations to adopt target 12.3 as part of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals to:

By 2030, halve per capita global food waste at the retail and consumer levels and reduce food losses along production and supply chains, including post-harvest losses.

Food Waste Management Innovations In The Foodservice Industry
The sustainable Development Goals Report 2020 —

The how and where of food wastage

Food loss and waste occur at each stage of the global food value chain, from agricultural production to final consumption. Food production is linked to land conversion and biodiversity loss, energy consumption and greenhouse gas emissions, water and pesticide use. At the post-harvest and processing stages, there is also waste in each step of the transport, storage, processing and distribution stages. At the end of the food value chain, final consumption (including commercial and household) accounts for as much as 40% of total food losses. Evidence shows that in developed countries, food is mainly wasted at the final consumer stage of the supply chain.

FW management has thus become a key priority, referring to all the activities related to avoiding, reducing or recycling waste throughout the production and consumption chain. This raises the question as to whether food wastage could also be reduced along the food supply chains.

The FW challenge in tourism and foodservice

Tourism, as a global foodservice industry, is implicated in food consumption and waste generation. Consumer foodservices include restaurants, fast food chains, cafés, cafeterias, canteens and dining halls, as well as event catering. This sector employs more people than any single other retail business, including 14 million in the USA and 8 million in Europe (Euromonitor International) and serves billions of meals every year. The Figure shows the average annual food away-from-home expenditure of U.S. households from 2010 to 2019. In 2019, average food away-from-home expenditure of U.S. households amounted to about 3,526 U.S. dollars, compared to 2,505 dollars in 2010. Therefore, the activity has a critical role in the global FW challenge.

Food Waste Management Innovations In The Foodservice Industry
Figure 2: Average annual food away-from-home expenditures of United States households from 2010 to 2019 (in U.S. dollars) (Source: Statista, 2020) — Photo: EHL
  • Producers: Collaborating with local farmers, e.g. sourcing locally can boost FW source reduction and turn FW into animal feed.
  • Suppliers: Partnering with suppliers that are ready to participate in sustainable initiatives (e.g. oil suppliers that collect used oil).
  • Retailers: Bargaining an off-spec protocol that consider FW reduction, e.g. acquiring imperfect or off-grade produce before is thrown away.
  • Employees: Providing with training for purchasing inventory management, production planning and menu planning & service.
  • Consumers: Increasing awareness and engagement of customers (dining out) and households (dining in).
  • Collaborative platforms: Partnering with food donation recovery partners, e.g. Too good to go.
  • Technology providers: Data feeding restaurants with FW information, e.g. Kitro technology (article).

Study findings

Despite the significance of this issue to the global foodservice industry, the link between innovation practices and FW management has received limited attention. An exception is Martin-Rios et al. (article) recent research on the interrelationships of foodservice provisions and innovations in FW management through the lenses of innovation theory.

The study presents a range of waste management initiatives using the distinction between incremental innovations (those revolving around work processes and technologies) and radical innovations (innovations exploring opportunities to significantly change waste management approaches). The study also points out different approaches to FW based on FW characterization, management practices and management’s beliefs, knowledge and awareness to identify practices that suggest some type of innovation.

Food Waste Management Innovations In The Foodservice Industry
Table: Summary of FW innovations for the hospitality and commercial foodservice — Photo: EHL

The main objectives

The concepts discussed in this research could help practitioners to become more aware of the factors that drive the adoption of FW innovations. Any initiative towards FW minimization and management must necessarily address the following two objectives:

  1. Customization: Identity which innovative food management practices contribute to the avoidance (reducing and rethinking), re-use or recycling of food waste in each particular foodservice establishment.
  2. Awareness: Evaluate foodservice managers’ perspectives regarding the opportunities, challenges, costs and benefits of various FW innovations.

A traditional waste management program that ignores the social aspects of management and professional skills can be a barrier to the effective implementation of FW innovations. Results also show that interest in innovation as a systematic process to minimize waste and facilitate waste management is limited.

Foodservice providers implement innovations based on a cost-saving analysis. Interviews highlighted a general lack of concern and knowledge about FW management. Food industry professionals face an array of daily organizational and financial challenges linked to waste sorting, storage and disposal, and they mostly count on the standard recycling/waste procedures their local councils make available to cope with them. Professionals tend to approach waste reduction from a practical, experience-based approach, but there is no systematic implementation of waste reduction strategies based on forms of institutional knowledge. What they really need is proper training and achievable goals to be set by governments.

A key finding is that many companies are not actively innovating in the waste domain. They are however increasingly aware of the economic and social importance of waste management. The foodservice industry is not leading the way when it comes to innovation. There are only a few low- or zero-waste restaurants, and just a few chefs who are creating meals out of food scraps.


One important finding academic research highlights are the importance of developing partnerships between foodservice providers and other businesses, non-for-profits, and institutional players. Closer collaboration underlines the importance of bringing together different (and sometimes competing) stakeholders and combining between them innovation types and innovation generation and adoption with greater efficiency. This calls for more research, tools and concepts to design the innovative practices supporting the next generation of FW management systems if the situation is to ever improve.

Foodservice, as a labor-intensive activity where innovation has tended to be slow, can benefit from other firms and institutions sharing knowledge, insights and experiences, helping the industry get on track to hit the goal of halving food waste by 2030.


Time to Open Up the Buffets

The buffet has been an integral part of many restaurant and other hotel food operations. For now, the buffet is just taking up space – an ugly reminder of better times. Buffets have a unique appeal to many customers if for no other reason than the visual of the food display – so many options for one set price.

Can we find innovative ways to re-introduce the buffet and create a unique customer experience?

Can we create the perception of high touch in a low touch environment?

“The buffet is a proven restaurant concept that has always had a strong customer base because of its value perception and visual appeal. By adapting the traditional buffet model to a safer and more controlled operation without giving up the essence of the idea will allow the concept to continue to thrive.” ~ Alan Someck, Keystone Hospitality Solutions.

The New Buffet Concept

The thought is to create a buffet customer experience that eliminates the customer touchpoints and engages the customer.

Try some of these conceptual work arounds for a restaurant or food and beverage operation are:

  • Create buffet stations such as soup/appetizers, salad, main course, side dishes, action station (carving, pasta, eggs to order, sandwiches, etc…), desserts and so forth.
  • Add in a Chef at the action station who also manages the buffet team and the experience.
  • Provide hospitality trained servers to portion the food.
  • Buffet staff should receive both culinary and hospitality training – informed service with a smile. We want the servers to engage with the customer.
  • The buffet staff should be tip eligible and receive a share of pooled tips – give them the incentive to produce the buffet experience that will generate return business and word of mouth advertising.

The questions to ask yourself as a food and beverage operator are:

  1. Can we reopen the buffet safely in this low touch environment?
  2. Can we operate the buffet without adding significant cost?
  3. Can we generate more revenue with the buffet open?

Safety Concerns Regarding Buffets

“There is no better time to have a plan for your business than the present day, and this does not mean one plan. Considering alternatives is imperative to survival and while buffet service has been a discouraging consideration, I see this differently. Paramount to our current operating considerations and the success of your business is the safety of your guests and employees.”

“A buffet setup, if designed and planned appropriately, may offer guests the safety they seek over a la carte service interaction.”

“This includes, but is not limited to: Managing capacity restrictions, wearing masks unless seated, social distancing controls (table by table) while guests are accessing the food line, six-foot protocols of buffet foods set up, the masked and gloved staff serving the customers, and protective shields for the foods and people.”

“There is also a need to minimize the potential for crossover contamination between the kitchen and the delivery of foods to the buffet with assembly-line tactics and other similar procedures that provide the look and feel that safety is a priority. Guests may partake in a properly designed buffet with minimal close contact with front of house staff, unlike a la carte. Ideally, you will also have a touchless payment system in place.” ~ Jim Lopolito, President Lopolito Hospitality Consultants.

Analyze Buffet Costs

Cost neutral or better vs. pure a la carte service may be achieved in several ways:

  • Servers behind the buffet will control portion size to some extent resulting in food cost reductions.
  • The Chef and servers will also help control, limit over production and resulting waste – just in time replenishment.
  • With the buffet open you will be able to reduce floor staff by increasing station size. A server working a buffet is responsible for taking the drink order, clearing the table, and handling the check – no food service and no kitchen trips. A buffet server is capable of handling more tables/covers than an a la carte server – an offset to the additional buffet server labor.
  • Less a la carte service will reduce stress on kitchen, create efficiencies and cost reductions.

Revenue increases from higher average checks for the buffet, faster turn times and more total customers per meal service – more revenue per seat (RPS). Increases in the top line will naturally result in improved revenue flow to the profit line.

There will be a one-time expense to retrofit the buffet and there are occupancy and capacity thresholds that need to be considered. However, if done correctly creating a buffet experience in today’s world may differentiate your restaurant and pay off in financial dividends.

Clearly this is a rough base line concept that will need to be tailored to the needs of your restaurant and food service operation and certainly there is room for some additional creative enhancements. Run the numbers based on your restaurant operation and see what they tell you. If positive, it will be worth the time and effort to give the buffet experience a new life.

If the time is not right now due to capacity thresholds, do your planning/homework now and be ready to re-launch the buffet when the time is right. All indications are that concerns about social distancing and touchpoints will linger for the foreseeable future. Therefore, if the buffet is an integral part of your restaurant and foodservice operation you will want to revise your approach.


Awareness of water risks is rising in food and beverage, but more progress is needed

Unilever does the best at recognizing and managing risk factors associated with water out of large food, beverage and ingredients companies, according to a new report from nonprofit sustainability group Ceres. Right behind Unilever — which scored 87 points out of 100 — was Nestlé with 85 points. General Mills, Coca-Cola and PepsiCo round out the top five. Sanderson Farms, with zero points, scored the lowest. Monster Beverage, Pilgrim’s Pride and Chiquita Brands all had fewer than 10 points.

Ceres ranked 40 major food companies on how well they manage water risk and compared how performance has changed in its latest “Feeding Ourselves Thirsty” report. Awareness is growing — 77% of 35 publicly traded food and beverage companies now consider water a risk factor in financial filings, an increase from 59% that did so when Ceres did its last report in 2017.

Although the food industry is becoming more aware of water risks, the 2019 analysis shows CPG, beverage, agricultural products and meat companies are still not effectively managing this risk in their operations or global supply chains. Food companies need to move faster and more boldly — investing in smart and water-conscious agriculture — to meet the challenges posed by the global water crisis, protect their bottom lines and return value to investors, the organization said.

​​Climate ​change’s effects are putting unprecedented strain on global water supply and quality, which Ceres said threatens profitability of the $5 trillion global food sector. The outlook and implications for food companies are grim, the organization added.

The Ceres report noted the food sector has improved management of water risk in the past few years. This is imperative considering that about 70% of global water use fuels the larger food and beverage industry, and it’s one of the first major industries to be exposed to problems caused by a strained supply, report co-author and Ceres Vice President of Innovation and Evaluation Brooke Barton said on a media call. 

The average company score rose 22% since 2017 and 52% since 2015. Reasons for this include corporate board members becoming more aware of water issues, more companies setting water use efficiency goals, and food companies more often analyzing the water-related risks — physical, regulatory and reputational — in today’s world.

The report singled out Unilever for adding 14 points to its latest score and regaining the No. 1 spot by strengthening its board oversight of water risks, tying executive compensation to meeting water performance targets and bolstering efforts to protect watersheds critical to its agricultural supply chain. Ceres said Mars improved its score by 27 points because it set new water reduction targets based on challenges within different watersheds.

Some companies have made more progress than others. Kentucky-based spirits maker Brown-Forman fell 10 points in the rankings, even though its numerical score stayed the same. Reasons behind the drop include lack of sustainability oversight on the board level, consideration of water in company strategy and operations, and a watershed protection plan. Hershey’s score improved by two points, but the confectioner’s ranking went down nine slots for failure to analyze watershed conditions, support suppliers to improve water and wastewater management and translate water risk into financial terms, Ceres said.

While the packaged food, beverage, agricultural products and meat sectors improved average scores from the two previous Ceres reports, the meat industry continues to be the lowest-performing of the four because “meat processors continue to do relatively little to ensure resilient supply chains,” the report said. Every meat company analyzed except Smithfield Foods was in the bottom half of all the companies assessed, Ceres noted.

Specific actions some food companies are taking to enhance sustainable sourcing were called out in the report. Kellogg has set out to responsibly source 10 priority ingredients by 2020. It defines that goal for each ingredient and reports on progress. So far, Kellogg has responsibly sourced at least 80% of most of its priority commodities, Ceres said.

PepsiCo is doing something similar with its commodity purchases, and the company is aiming to enhance water use efficiency by 15% by 2025. These goals cover most of its key commodities, the report said.


Foodservice leaders on the impact of Brexit on the restaurant industry

With the uncertainty of a potential no-deal Brexit drawing closer, leaders in the restaurant industry are becoming less confident about their sector, with only 30% optimistic about the future of the general market, according to insight consultancy CGA’s latest quarterly Business Confidence Survey.

Verdict Foodservice spoke with industry professionals about the impact Brexit is and will have on the restaurant industry.

John Trueman, CEO of leading guest management system Quadranet Systems, has been in the restaurant industry for decades

“Aside from the obvious concerns restaurant and hotel owners have about the European migrants currently working for them, whose future remains uncertain, the impact on staffing has already been negative. Europeans are returning to their native countries rather than face uncertainty, making the pool of staff available to the industry ever smaller.

“Brexit is already having a seismic impact on our sector in other ways, too: the devalued pound is naturally resulting in fewer people eating out, choosing instead to pinch their pennies until after 31 October or whenever Brexit may be, when they will be able to assess what their disposable income looks like.

“Many of us feel left in the dark and planning for the future has become nigh on impossible. Brexit would be bad for hospitality, but uncertainty is worse. The sooner we have some clarity on what lies ahead, the better.”

Peter Hale, spokesperson for Business Electricity Prices (BEP), which specialises in helping businesses reduce their energy bills 

“With businesses seeing an average of a 43% increase in their electricity bills over the past ten years, and Brexit’s uncertainty lurking around the corner, it’s no wonder business owners are looking for smart ways to cut costs.

“The hospitality industry, especially restaurants, could potentially see a big change in their number of covers, as dining out is a luxury that people to tend to cut out when tightening their belts. In order for the restaurant industry to have the best chance of survival, it is important to look at cuts that will not affect quality of service.”

Chris Miller, founder of White Rabbit Fund, a creative development platform that backs and invests in food entrepreneurs 

“Without question, Brexit is a disaster for the hospitality industry in the UK.

“We have already seen increases in the cost of ingredients. Be that driven by the declining value of the pound, or simply giving suppliers a good reason to trigger raises. Under a no-deal scenario, with the implementation of tariffs, this will only get worse.

“As for the staff, a lot of our best staff are from Europe. Where they would often come to the UK to work and send some money home, with a weaker pound this is a less attractive proposition. In addition, I do believe there is a factor of feeling unwelcome. So, where many workers went back home over the summer, they simply are not coming back in the same quantity. This is creating a real shortage of staff.

“In the UK, hospitality has not been seen as a career and there simply isn’t the local talent pool to fill vacancies. The result comes from economics 101 – shortage of supply means increased price – so we will continue to see inflation in staff cost.

“The picture does not look good and I think it is pretty clear we are heading into a recession. We are ten years into a bull run when historic averages show recessions happen every seven years.

All that said, people still need to eat and drink. The restaurant market will not disappear, but there will be a massive shakeout. Operators really have to be at the top of their game to survive and prosper in these challenging times.”

Gareth Ogden, partner at haysmacintyre, who has 12 years’ experience in hospitality and advises his restaurant clients on topics such as financial planning for Brexit

“The restaurant industry is currently facing complex challenges. When we speak to operators the most common buzzword is ‘uncertainty’ which is partly, but not entirely, attributable to ongoing Brexit deliberations.

“Economic uncertainty is a serious concern in respect of its impact on consumer demand. The impact of Brexit on food costs is also causing anxiety, dependent as it is on the nature of the final Brexit outcome: deal, no-deal or no Brexit. Both of these factors are holding back many operators from further investment as they wait to see how the political situation plays out.

“However, it is the uncertainty over staff recruitment which is perhaps most obviously being felt currently. The uncertainty over the impact of Brexit on the availability of labour is compounding an already prevalent problem: recruiting good quality staff, including chefs.

“In the 2018 haysmacintyre UK hospitality Index, 77% of respondents stated that they felt Brexit would negatively impact their ability to recruit staff. Initial results for the 2019 Index suggest this figure has increased to over 80%. Operators are seeking clarity over the Government’s immigration policy and whether freedom or restriction of movement of labour from the EU will ultimately prevail.”

Jamie Shail, managing director at Rothay Manor Hotel & Fine Dining 

“Since the referendum one of the biggest impacts on the hotel and restaurant industry has been the shortage of staff. We rely on a pool of talent from European countries, and not only have they felt unwelcome, the euro-sterling exchange rate has meant a 20% decline in their salaries, and many have made the decision to return to their home or other European countries.

“The UK doesn’t have the experienced workforce to replace them. It is also this decline of sterling against the euro which is currently leading to higher costs of imported food goods. We have seen a significant price rise on many food products from dairy to fish.

“If the UK leaves the European Union with a ‘no deal’ along with the continued staffing issue, which may, in fact, get worse, we will also suffer a serious supply and demand problem. With the UK falling into WTO regulations this would immediately increase the price of imported foods by 20% and many imported products could be left at ports while lengthy checks are carried out.

“We are also likely to see further price rises from the continued decline in sterling and the increased demand for the limited production in the UK, with in excess of 30% of food products being imported.”