Members’ News

May 2023

Industry first for Bestway with data analytics dashboard giving suppliers deeper insights into the customer journey #

In a first for the industry, Bestway Wholesale, has launched a real-time analytics dashboard for suppliers, enabling them to monitor their brand’s performance and give deeper insights into Bestway’s customers’ journey.
Bestway has made digital experience optimization one of its priorities and is partnering with Contentsquare, the global leader in digital experience analytics, as part of a larger investment in this area. Bestway is the first wholesaler to adopt Contentsquare’s CS Retail Media solution. The offering is unique in that it provides suppliers with key insights into customers’ buying behaviour as they shop across the Bestway Wholesale’ website.
Described by one supplier as “the best insights tool we’ve seen from any of our wholesalers”, suppliers can see aggregated data and insights across the entire customer journey for their brand and products, and showing how the performance compares to the category benchmark, giving them visibility of ‘friction points’ that can disrupt customer engagement and optimization opportunities.

The data allows suppliers to identify areas of improvement, enabling them to optimise their own listings, pages, and promotions to enhance the overall digital experience for Bestway’s customer - to lead to more conversions into sales in what is described as a ‘win-win’ all round for retailer customers, suppliers and Bestway.

Not only is it a first in the industry but it’s a huge step forward for the industry as suppliers cannot directly access this level of data from any other wholesaler in the sector. Suppliers would previously have relied on the wholesaler sharing select data with them and not the deep data that shows the customer journey.
The overall aim is Bestway wants to work together with suppliers to improve the experience for its customers, and in doing so, bridge the data gap between retailer customers and supplier brands.
Dawood Pervez, Managing Director at Bestway Wholesale, said:
We’re really excited about the potential this analytics dashboard has for our suppliers.
“It has the capacity to really drill down on the buying behaviours of our customers and the data can be benchmarked. For example the ‘add to cart’ and ‘conversion rate’ can both be rated against the category average, allowing suppliers to see how they are performing against other brands in the same category
Kenton Burchell, Group Trading Director at Bestway Wholesale, added:
Manufacturers are starved for insights into wholesale customer journeys, and so we’re delighted to now offer these insights to the brands we work with.
“Brands are now able to optimise their product listings, pages, and promotions, and together we are improving the experience for Bestway shoppers.

This will give our suppliers the knowledge and transparency so that they will be able to optimise their advertising spend and digital activity accordingly, which in turn will allow them to plan more strategically their spend going forward.”
Kevin Rhodes, Impulse Digital Manager at PepsiCo, commented:
Our personalised Bestway Wholesale data analytics dashboard allows us to fully understand the performance of each of our online activations and tools – giving us in-depth insights into how retailers shop online.
“It’s the best insights tool we’ve seen from any of our wholesalers. We have learnt that retailers predominantly use search to shop for our products which has allowed is to identify clear opportunities to improve our digital visibility and sales in 2023
Pervez concludes:

By empowering the brands we work with, we are able to ensure the constant improvement in the quality of our customer’s experience”.
Patrice Attia, SVP EMEA of Contentsquare, added:
It has been a pleasure to work with Bestway Wholesale on being the first wholesaler to share insights with their suppliers to improve the buyer experience thanks to the CS Retail Media solution. We’re excited to enable real-time data sharing between retailers and brands, and to bring transparency into the online retail media industry. By empowering the brands it works with, Bestway Wholesale is paving the way for a new era of data-driven collaboration that leads to improved customer experience and differentiation in the market.”

Southern Style brings a whole new level of comfort food to the Poets Ale and Smokehouse pub in Hove #

With 75% of Brits saying they would like to see a wider range of gravies on the menu when dining out, The Poets Ale and Smoke House pub in Hove was keen to sample Bisto’s newest flavour, Southern Style gravy.

Since Easter, the East Sussex pub has included four mouth-watering new dishes to its specials board, all featuring the flavour-packed Southern Style gravy.
Four dishes to delight every palette, the pub’s head chef, Robin Elwell, was excited to showcase the versality of the gravy and pair it with a range of protein options, alongside a dish suitable for vegetarians.

Robin Elwell, head chef at The Poets Ale and Smoke House

When I first made a batch and tasted it – it got my mind racing. I thought, not only would it complement a protein like chicken or pork, but it also goes well very well with local seafood and on vegetarian dishes too. The result being Cheddar, jalapeno and wild garlic cornbread muffins: Glazed smoked pork chop, cavolo nero, red grape chutney and Southern Style mushroom fricassee: Southern fried chicken, with creamed corn mash and Southern Style gravy and Charleston shrimp ‘n’ grits.”

What I like about this product is that it’s a well-balanced southern style sauce as it is, but it is also a great carrier for added ingredients.  My chef’s tip is…don’t be afraid of using it as a base to create other sauces. If you want to achieve comfort food in your pub or restaurant, it is a quality product to consider – customer feedback on the new dishes has been ‘scrummy’ ‘comforting’ and ‘moreish’.”

With 47% of consumers enjoying gravy twice a week*, gravy isn’t just the perfect accompaniment with a Sunday Roast - it is a celebrated sauce craved by consumers. New Southern Style gravy now brings an exciting new flavour-profile to chefs, that is vegan-friendly, low in fat and sugar, and meets government salt standards for 2024.

Robin Elwell, head chef at The Poets Ale and Smoke House shares his experience of using the new Southern Style gravy.

The four specials have been selling very well. We had a week during the Easter holidays where we sold out of all of them! The best-selling dish has been the Charleston shrimp ‘n’ grits. A renowned dish in South America, I wanted to incorporate the Southern Style gravy to it as I knew it would pair well with seafood.

We fry off the smoked bacon to release the well flavoured fats which pairs beautifully with the shrimps and boosts the smoky aroma within the gravy

Bisto has always been a staple in the cupboard of everybody’s domestic kitchen. That’s because it’s stress-free to make, simple, reliable and a tasty gravy. Using it in a commercial sense gave me confidence in knowing it would achieve all those points and fit in as a product with our workload. The gravy ties in nicely with our smokehouse, Deep South style of comfort food here at The Poets. If you are striving to deliver comfort food, I would recommend this product.”

Sarah Robb, foodservice marketing manager, Premier Foods Foodservice

Gravy will always hold a cherished place in the British psyche. And as the market leader, Bisto has maintained its foothold, adapting its popular formulation to incorporate exciting new flavours and cuisines. With Bisto Southern Style Gravy Granules chefs can offer diners an exciting flavour profile and a new way of partnering their meals with gravy. We were delighted to have the opportunity to collaborate with head chef, Robin at The Poets Ale and Smoke House pub to highlight the innovative range of dishes you can create with the gravy.”

Bisto Southern Style Gravy Granules are available in 1.8kg drums, which are 100% recyclable. Each produces approximately 13 litres, or 275 portions, of rich, flavourful southern-style gravy.

UK’s John Cudmore wins Aramark International Chefs’ Cup 2023 #

Aramark UK is delighted to announce that John Cudmore, Head Chef at the Battersea power station in London, has been awarded the top prize at Aramark’s International Chefs’ Cup 2023 in Santiago, Chile. John was assisted by Chef Liam Davidson.
The annual culinary competition, which recognises the exceptional gastronomic talent within Aramark from across the globe, saw 14 Aramark chefs compete for the prestigious prize through a series of cooking challenges.
The competition required teams to prepare a three-course menu for four people and the chefs were challenged to use fresh local and international ingredients for their menus.
John took home first place with his starter of seared beetroot salmon brandade, burnt orange and carrot purée, pickled cucumber paired with a sweet pepper & chilli seafood bisque. John’s main was a pistachio and matcha crusted fillet of beef, truffle king oyster mushrooms with carmalised shallot cauliflower purée and a red wine jus. He finished on a sweet note with a Pisco berry cheesecake with charred meringue, freeze dried Pisco raspberries and chocolate Pisco truffles.
Second place went to Chile’s Chef Oscar Huerta and assistant Chef Jocelin Cornejo, while third place was awarded to the Czech Republic’s Chef Tomáš Frištenský and assistant Chef Lukáš Sedláček.
The jury was made up of outstanding national and international chefs. Four local judges made up the technical jury, Cynthia Morales, Daniel Núñez, Claudio Olivares and Martin Maggi. On the tasting jury was previous winner and chef Henning Hartwig from Germany and esteemed Argentinian chef Germán Ghelfi, Chef at the Mandarin Hotel Santiago.
Before travelling to the finals in Chile, Aramark chefs competed at a local level to qualify. John Cudmore qualified for the International Chef’s Cup by impressing judges in the UK’s domestic heat with delicious meals and exceptionally high levels of culinary talent. Liam was the runner-up in the UK competition.
In total, 14 countries participated in the international leg: Germany, Argentina, Belgium, Canada, Chile, China, Korea, Scotland, Spain, Ireland, Japan, Mexico, United Kingdom and the Czech Republic.
The International Chef’s Cup competition is an extension of Aramark’s European Chef’s Cup, which launched in 2016 and was previously held in Berlin, London, and Barcelona.  
Speaking about the competition winner Eduoardo Rojas, President of Aramark Latin America said:

 “We are delighted to announce John Cudmore from the UK as our winner. He demonstrated an incredible understanding of flavours and culinary expertise which translated into delicious and sensational dishes. The Aramark International Chefs’ Cup celebrates the excellent standard of Aramark chefs from around the globe and as Aramark is an international company, it was fantastic to see so many professionals from all around the world coming together to speak the universal language of food. Each and every participant was of excellent calibre and all who cooked in Chile should be proud of their work.” 
Following the announcement, winner of Aramark International Chefs’ Cup 2023 John Cudmore commented:

 “I am honoured to have won this competition. I have long been a proud member of the Aramark team, so I was delighted to have the opportunity to show my creativity through food and engage with other Aramark chefs from all around the world. It has been an inspiration and an honour to take part in this event. I would like to thank all those who have supported me in my career and to all involved in organising the Aramark 2023 International Chefs’ Cup.”
The winners of the competition also attended a gala that evening, a true celebration of an exciting experience filled with food and fun. The gala was attended by Aramark’s CEO John Zillmer, Aramark International’s COO, Carl Mittleman, and the company’s highest executives from each participating country.
The Aramark International Chefs’ Cup will take place in Canada in 2024.

Sodexo CEO to open day two of Social Value Conference 2023 #

Sodexo is once again supporting the annual Social Value Conference as a Platinum Sponsor. Sean Haley, UK & Ireland CEO, will provide the keynote speech on day two of the conference: Towards a Social Value Economy – The Role of Business. 

Sodexo is a member of the National Social Value Taskforce and part of its work is influencing the way in which social value is embedded into both corporate and public sector activities. The aim is to create healthy, thriving and resilient communities.  

Since 2019 Sodexo has been working with Social Value Portal (SVP) – the organisers of the conference – to pilot the use of the social value portal platform and has also worked in collaboration with SVP to develop the Central Government TOMs framework, and enhance its social accounting practices. 

This annual conference is the leading not-for-profit social value event, and brings together experts and practitioners from the public, private and third sectors. 

The conference theme this year is ‘Towards a Social Value economy’ and the two-day event will facilitate sharing best practices and innovative ideas for social value and discuss how organisations across sectors can do 'good business’.  

Following his keynote speech, Sean will join a panel chaired by Charlie Wigglesworth from Social Enterprise UK (Chair) along with Martin Traynor from the Cabinet Office and Barry Hooper from the Ministry of Justice to discuss the role of business in creating a social value economy. 

Sean Haley, CEO, Sodexo UK & Ireland said: “We are proud partners of the Social Value Portal and are pleased to have been able to contribute, through our membership of the National Social Value Taskforce, to the development of the roadmap to delivering a social value economy, which will be discussed at the conference. 

“Our purpose has always been to contribute positively to those communities in which we live and work, through every interaction, so I am looking forward to sharing our progress with delegates, and to hear other organisations’ experiences, during this important conference

At the conference, Sodexo will also be showcasing Starting Fresh, its programme of activity to encourage and provide guidance to businesses on proactively hiring ex-offenders. The organisation will be using its exhibition stand to provide more information about processes such as hosting recruitment days inside prisons and answering questions to help employers overcome any perceived barriers.

NHS England and Compass Group UK & Ireland deliver inspiring 24/7 hospital food event #

NHS England alongside Compass Group UK & Ireland’s Medirest and One Retail sectors, have hosted over 100 people from across the NHS, innovative suppliers and food experts such as chefs and dietitians, to discuss the way forward for the provision of 24/7 Hospital Food.
Held on 11th May 2023 at the Imperial War Museum in Duxford, the event was organised by Haley-mae Downer, Compass Group UK & Ireland, Business Development Director, One Retail and Tim Radcliffe, NHS England, Chair of NHS 24/7 clinical panel. It saw the industry come together to share best practice and insights on the recently mandated 24/7 food provision - as announced in the National Standards for Healthcare Food and Drink.
The event was opened by Philip Shelley, NHS England’s Chair of the NHS Review of Hospital Food, who outlined the standards and what they mean for patients and staff, describing them as a tool for Trusts, and that they should use them as an advantage. He was followed by Tim Radcliffe, who talked about the opportunity for all; and Neely Mozawala, Compass’ Social Value Lead and Founder of the campaign “No Hungry Staff”, who highlighted the importance of nutritious, delicious and affordable food, as a health and wellbeing necessity that will benefit NHS staff. Ian Howson from Northampton General Hospital acted as a case study for delivering 24/7.
Innovative exhibitors aimed to offer solutions to support with the initiative, they included Change Please; The Cuisine Centre; Field Doctor and SoftBank Robotics. A live cooking demo highlighted the importance of reducing food waste and cooking healthy and tasty meals.  
Philip Shelley, NHS England’s Chair of the Hospital Food Review said: “We know that providing great, healthy food for NHS staff is the right thing to do. The event helped to drive this agenda, taking our collaborative approach to the next level. Thank you to everyone that attended and shared insights.”
Neely Mozawala, Compass’ Social Value Lead and Founder of the campaign “No Hungry Staff” commented: “This is so important. We know that good food aids mental and physical wellbeing and we know that people in the NHS deserve this support, especially during the cost of living crisis. Trusts have a responsibility, but businesses do too – let’s work together to leave behind a legacy that we can all be proud of.”
Mark Webster, Compass One Managing Director said: “We have the opportunity to positively impact the lives of the one and a half million people working for the NHS – that’s really inspiring. They all deserve to have access to nutritious food, whether they are working day or night. It’s our job to look after these brilliant people, who look after all of us.”
The 24/7 No Hungry Staff campaign is calling for ambassadors to support the initiative at hospital level. To register your interest - https://mailchimp/8af04c1add9b/ambassador-registration

Fast growing tech firm launches Knowledge Labs expert sustainability consultancy arm #

Leading food software (SaaS) company, Nutritics, has launched a brand new sustainability consultancy arm, Knowledge Labs from Nutritics.

Knowledge Labs will provide Hospitality and Food Service (HaFS) operators with expert advice and support across a range of topics central to their ESG strategy, including food related sustainability, nutrition, employee wellbeing, and compliance.

Leading the offering will be Elbha Purcell, who has been promoted to the newly created role of Director of Knowledge Labs. Elbha, a trained dietician and former Director of Dietetics and Wellbeing at Aramark Northern Europe, will be supported by a team of accredited professionals, including Nutritics’ Sustainability Lead, Dr Laura Kirwan – vice chair of European Health Systems at the European Parliament; Frankie Douglas – Director of Compliance and Integrity, and Angela Hart, Enablement Director.

Stephen Nolan, Nutritics CEO, said: “Our mission is to continue to be a trusted partner to our customers, by working collaboratively with them to develop food-related sustainability, compliance and wellbeing strategies. Knowledge Labs is an important part of that, providing operators with access to the same experts who have helped create our award-winning software solutions, so HaFS businesses can bridge the gap between the knowing and the doing.”

Nutritics operates the Foodprint and Ten Kites technology businesses and helps HaFs operators run safer, more sustainable and more profitable operations, and is used in over 100 countries by a wide range of food businesses. Nutritics Food provides menu management and food labelling solutions for multi-site food service operators, caterers and hospitality sector leaders, and Nutritics is currently the only company in the world to have been awarded the Gold Standard Recipe Calculation Accreditation by the European Food Information Resource (EUROFIR).

Backed by Nutritics’ unrivalled data, Knowledge Labs’ team of experts will provide support to HaFS businesses of all sizes, during their ESG journey, in areas such as regulatory engagement, story development, corporate strategy, customer communication and margin management.

Knowledge Labs can help operators in areas such as shaping their Net Zero roadmap, understanding their waste and carbon impact and improving employee education and engagement with sustainability programmes, all of which will strengthen reputation, build trust with consumers, staff and investors, and grow market share.

Elbha Purcell, Director of Knowledge Labs, commented, “We’ve been in food data and impact reporting for the last decade so we know there’s a huge amount of value we can add to hospitality and food service businesses. Knowledge Labs is a ground-breaking solution which blends our personal expertise with best-in-class data to provide expert sustainability counsel and consultancy, and we look forward to helping operators by providing practical strategies that are not only clear, but easy to implement, which will deliver a tangible return on their investment.”

Sodexo Live! confirmed as new venue partner for Preston North End #

Preston North End is delighted to announce Sodexo Live! will become the club’s official venue partner from 1 July 2023. 

Sodexo Live! – a global leader in hospitality and live events – will take over the catering operation at Deepdale, including hospitality in the lounges and boxes, and on the concourse on matchdays.                                                                                                                         
Sodexo Live! has extensive experience of working in football and live entertainment catering, as the company is currently partnered with – amongst others – Everton F.C. and Newcastle United, as well as venues such as ACC Liverpool, Ascot Racecourse and Headingley Stadium. 

As part of the agreement, Sodexo Live! will invest in the catering infrastructure at Deepdale with the aim of enhancing an efficient and enjoyable matchday experience for the club’s supporters. 

Ahead of the beginning of the 2023/24 season, the club will organise a meeting with supporters’ representatives to discuss Sodexo Live’s matchday provisions.

Club director Peter Ridsdale said: “We are delighted to have agreed a long-term partnership with Sodexo Live!, who arrive with a fantastic reputation of providing a high-quality service.

“As a company who are well-versed providing a service to football fans, we are confident our supporters will be satisfied with the new offerings they will experience on a matchday at Deepdale.

“We are looking forward to establishing a mutually beneficial relationship in the coming years


Rebecca Kane Burton, CEO of Sodexo Live! UK and Ireland said: “We are thrilled to announce our partnership with Preston North End and are delighted to be working with another excellent venue in North West England. We can’t wait to bring our knowledge in hospitality, retail, guest experience, and venue management to Deepdale.


"Enhancing the guest experience and creating an enjoyable and memorable match day experience for everyone is in our DNA. We can't wait to get started.”


The new partnership with Sodexo Live! will replace the existing deal with Heathcote&Co, who has been the club’s catering partner since 2018, and the club would like to wish them all the best for the future and express its sincere thanks for the service they have provided over the past five years.


Delicious news for vegan pizza lovers as Dr. Oetker launches brand new flavour #

Dr. Oetker Ristorante Vegan Pepperoni-Salame joins Dr. Oetker's pizza portfolio as they continue to grow their dietary and lifestyle ranges.  

The latest addition follows the success of the Dr. Oetker Ristorante Vegan Margherita Pomodori, launched in 2021, which was the brand’s first vegan pizza. 

Since its launch, the Dr. Oetker Ristorante Vegan Margherita Pomodori has become the most valuable vegan frozen pizza product in the category and is worth over £2 million as of February 2023.  

The new flavour puts a vegan spin on the brand's classic Italian-style pizza. Combining a thin and crispy Ristorante crust with the signature passata, dairy free mozzarella and delicious vegan pepperoni-salame.   

Paula Wyatt, Head of Marketing at Dr. Oetker Ristorante, said: “Our first vegan pizza has been a huge success within the category since its launch in 2021, so we’re really excited to grow the range with our new Ristorante Vegan Pepperoni-Salame and to help vegan pizza lovers have more options when it comes to playing it Italian.  

“We’re confident that this new addition to our portfolio will be popular with consumers and will bring even more variety for those on a vegan diet or looking to reduce their meat and dairy consumption

The Ristorante Vegan Pepperoni-Salame pizza will be available to purchase at Tesco, in store and online from 15th May 2023. A taste of Italian sunshine for everyone, just in time for summer!  

For more information, please visit: 

Bidfood calls upon the wider industry to follow suit as it sets ambitious target of Ukraine food support #

As we are now well into the second year since the war first broke out in Ukraine, Bidfood, one of the UK’s leading foodservice providers, has set an ambitious target as it continues to partner with Hope4 and supply valuable food and drink aid for those affected by the ongoing conflict.

Originally uniting when the war first began, food packages were sent to Moldova, which became a place of refuge for many fleeing the conflict. Now on their seventh load of support, Bidfood has donated approximately £400,000 worth of products, and are now not only providing their own stock, but working with and encouraging suppliers, customers and even competitors’ to fund and donate as well.

So far the seven support loads have provided around 73,000 meals for those in need, and Bidfood is determined  to increase this to provide £1,000,000 worth of food equivalence support, working out at around 200,000 meals, in addition to the multi-million meals that Bidfood has donated to UK charities.

This not only supports Bidfood’s ESG goals both internally and externally but also assists in clearing stocks. The work makes a real difference to some of the poorest people in Europe, many of whom have had to flee their homes because of war; and is a cause that Bidfood Senior Leadership Team passionately believe in.

The food dispatched has consisted of mostly ambient products with items such as canned veg, canned and jarred meat, pasta, biscuits and snack products, as well as canned drinks and bottles of drinking water. These donations have been distributed to Ukrainian refugees, those in desperate poverty in Moldova and people remaining in war torn areas of Ukraine who are unable to escape the conflict.

Bidfood’s Supply Chain and Technical Services Director, Jim Gouldie, recently visited parts of Ukraine, which had been recaptured, from Russian occupation to see the impact the support Bidfood and Hope4 is having on those affected. He commented:

This has to be hands down the most humbling experience for me. To be able to join forces with Hope4 who are doing such incredible work to support the people of Ukraine affected by this ongoing conflict is just amazing to see.

“It was fantastic to see first-hand how we were also having a positive impact, offering support at such a difficult time, but it’s crucial that this support continues and doesn’t dwindle as unfortunately the humanitarian needs are rarely shown on our TV screens any more.

“Now I’m home, it’s more important than ever for me to raise awareness of the situation and share how others can get involved. Our goal as a business is to provide £1,000,000 of food and drink support, but how powerful could our level of support be if the wider industry were able to play a part too
Bidfood and Hope4 have also worked together to support those affected by the recent earthquakes in Turkey and Syria, supplying similar food packages as well as sleeping bags, blankets and old freezer suits to keep those without a home warm at night.

Speaking about the partnership, Chris Lomas, CEO of Hope4 said: “At a time of desperate need to support starving families and Ukrainian refugees fleeing the devastation in their homeland, Bidfood has stood up to the challenge of supporting those who have nothing and have continued to do so, even when this devastation is no longer making daily news.

“We at Hope4 are humbled by the incredible support we get from Bidfood; but sadly we recognise these challenges are getting worse not better. We invite all from across the industry whether you are a manufacturer, wholesaler, retailer or foodservice operators to join with Bidfood, and us all to help support one of the largest humanitarian crises Europe has ever seen

Follow the link below to listen to Jim Gouldie talk through his work with Hope4:

If you have any questions on what you can do to support Hope4, or would like to partner with us for sending food out to Moldova and Ukraine, please feel free to contact Jim directly:

FEA Light Equipment and Tableware Awards: Alliance’s ‘proud moment’ #

“Incredible.”  That’s how Steve Goodliff, chair of FEA’s Light Equipment and Tableware (LET) Group, described Alliance‘s achievement in winning the LET Distributor Cup for the sixth year in a row. 

The Cup was one of three awards announced at the annual LET Forum dinner, held at Whittlebury Hall on 16 May 2023.  It recognises the distributor company that has done the most to support the promotion of light equipment and tableware during the past year.  Three companies made the shortlist, Alliance, Lockhart Catering Equipment and United UK.  “No company has ever won the Cup six times in a row,” Goodliff said.  “It’s a huge achievement.

Sarah Overton, general manager of Alliance West Midlands, accepted the award for the company.   “This is a proud moment for the business,” she said.  “It’s a privilege to accept the award on behalf of the whole of Alliance.” 

The second award, Sales Professional of the Year, is voted for by the participating supplier companies.  This award celebrates the sales professional who has contributed most to the sales of utensils and smallwares.  Voters considered a variety of factors, from one-off sales or contract wins to adding value to a business by helping a customer identify key products for their operation.  The winner was Corey Mayes of London Bar and Kitchen, just ahead of runner up Donna Kennett from Hugh Jordan.  As well as the prestigious trophy, Corey receives a £500 cash prize and a free place on FEA’s Certified Food Service Professional (CFSP) training course.  

The third award recipient of the night is, said Goodliff, “A tireless supporter of the foodservice equipment industry, and one of its most respected and liked figures.”  The FEA Donald Bird Award is given for an outstanding lifetime contribution to the light equipment and tableware sector and this year it went to Keith Warren, the former chief executive of FEA, who had been at the association’s helm for 21 years.  Unfortunately he couldn’t attend the event, but sent a video message and was clearly deeply moved to pick up the award. 

The Foodservice Equipment Association (FEA) is the independent, authoritative voice of the foodservice equipment industry, representing nearly 200 companies who supply, service and maintain all types of commercial catering equipment - from utensils to full kitchen schemes.  For more information on FEA visit 

Toque D'Or finalists revealed as grand prize awaits the winners #

Nestlé Professional today announced this year’s Toque d’Or competition finalists, following an action-packed Heats round which included several days of intense challenges and expert mentoring.
The 48 students who competed at the Heats enjoyed a learning experience of a lifetime. BOH competitors were tasked with creating a nutritious and sustainable plant-based main course, after experiencing a masterclass from Whitbread’s Senior Quality & Innovation Chef, Paul Fletcher. Using GARDEN GOURMET’S SENSATIONAL burger as the hero ingredient for their dish, students were able to choose from a larder of ingredients to help create an innovative main course. The eventual winner of the BOH competition will be offered the opportunity to develop their plant-based dish, before being featured across Whitbread’s menus.
Commenting after delivering his masterclass, Paul Fletcher said:

I was really impressed by the level of skill our students demonstrated, with many high-quality dishes being put forward. It was also encouraging to see how innovative our chefs were in their approach to plant-based cooking, which we know has become a mainstay in people’s diets. We look forward to working with the winner of the back of house competition on an exciting opportunity to feature their plant-based dish on our menus here at Whitbread.”
Furthermore, BOH competitors had to replicate a plant-based starter created by guest judge Louisa Ellis, which featured GARDEN GOURMET’S SENSATIONAL pulled fillet. Nestlé Professional’s Business Development Chef, Darren Chapman, oversaw the BOH competition during the Heats, supporting students by offering his expertise on plant-based diets.
Well-respected sommelier and guest judge, Raul Diaz, delivered a wine and customer service masterclass to FOH students before they were tasked with serving both red and white wine to guests during a lunch service. Nestlé Professional coffee training specialist, Aaron Dunn, delivered a further masterclass on how to make the perfect latte which FOH students had to serve as part of the overall lunch service. 2021 FOH Toque d’Or winner and now guest judge, Sophie Taylor, supported students during the Heats competition.
Commenting after the national Heats round, Raul Diaz said:

It was a pleasure to see the passion of our students come through in this stage of the competition. They were able to learn about the art of hospitality and put everything into practice through an intense lunch service, from delivering excellent customer service to confidently explaining food and wine pairings to guests. Well done to everyone who took part!
The 12 BOH and FOH students advancing into the Grand Finals are:
Back of House
Elycia Rayner, Westminster Kingsway
Emily Simkins, North Hertfordshire College
Catherine Ripley, Westminster Kingsway
Owen Marsh, Milton Keynes
James Wheatley, North Hertfordshire College
Amber Clay, University College Birmingham 
Front of House
Alexander Lloyd, Aryshire College – Kilmarnock Campus
Joshua Kerr, City of Glasgow College
Chloe Collinwood, Cardiff & Vale
Raheim Saddler, North Hertfordshire College
Alison Watson, North Hertfordshire College
Ryan James, Coleg Cambria 

Katya Simmons, managing director Nestlé Professional UK&I said:

"The Heats have been both challenging and rewarding for everyone. It was an intense, action-packed round and the standard was incredibly high, so everyone who has taken part should be very proud. As we look ahead to an exciting Final’s week, I want to wish the very best of luck to our 12 finalists who will be put to the test one last time.”
Taking place in York for the first time ever, The Finals will comprise a series of challenges built around the overarching theme of sustainability with a key focus on home-grown, locally sourced produce. Competitors will get the opportunity to sharpen their skills while exploring the latest culinary trends and learning about farm-to-fork dining. Some challenges have been created by the competition judges, including the Fine Dining Challenge which will see BOH finalists replicate a menu created by two-Michelin star chef Tommy Banks. 
The Grand Finals will take place from 4th-8th June 2023, with the winners announced during the Awards lunch on Friday 30th June 2023. The Finals will be judged by award-winning chef and restaurateur, Tommy Banks; MasterChef: The Professionals, The Festive Knockout winner Louisa Ellis; educator and well-respected sommelier and wine expert, Raul Diaz; and 2021 FOH Toque d’Or winner, Sophie Taylor. Several high-profile foodservice and hospitality companies will be revealed as competition partners during the Grand Finals, with each creating their own bespoke challenge for students of which they will help judge. 
This year’s winners will enjoy a once in a lifetime culinary trip to Brazil, sampling high-end gastronomy through to street food, and learning about sustainability on a bean to cup journey with the world’s biggest coffee producer. Discovering the vibrant gastronomic scene of São Paulo, learning about coffee and sustainability in Espírito Santo, and sightseeing in Rio de Janeiro, they’ll be inspired by new tastes and flavours from the country. The winners will also visit a flavour development lab and coffee farm, which is part of the Nescafé Plan, to learn more about regenerative agriculture and coffee.

Bestway Foundation UK donates £100,000 to Barnardo's #

Lord Zameer Choudrey CBE SI Pk, Chief Executive of Bestway Group, and Dawood Pervez, Managing Director of Bestway Wholesale, presented a cheque for £100,000 to the UK’s largest children’s charity, Barnardo’s, at Bestway Group’s Head Office in Park Royal, London last week.

The funds were raised through Bestway Wholesale’s annual Ascot Charity Race Day held last year, attended by over 800 industry guests including key business influencers, wholesale supplier partners, colleagues, press and Barnardo’s. 

The Charity Race Day is one of Bestway Wholesale’s largest corporate events in the calendar, supported by supplier partners for over 29 years.  Over 25 charities have benefited from funds raised through the event since it began in 1994, including Barnardo’s, the largest national children’s charity in the UK.

The presentation was attended by Lynn Perry MBE, CEO and Rebecca Mauger, Director of Fundraising and Marketing from Barnardo’s, and Bestway Board of Directors, including Sir Anwar Pervez OBE H Pk, Chairman Bestway Group.
Lord Choudrey emphasised the importance of the work that Barnardo’s is doing:

We are delighted to support the work of Barnardo’s during these very difficult times for children, young people, and families across the UK.

“Understanding that our donation will help thousands of children and young people gain the basics of everyday life such as food, emotional support and practical advice really aligns with the values of The Bestway Foundation. We are very pleased to help Barnardo’s continue its amazing work.

Dawood Pervez, Managing Director of Bestway Wholesale, said:

We always receive incredible support from our partners for Ascot, which has become established as a sell-out event every year. It provides us a wonderful opportunity to network and raise funds through sponsorships and our auctions.”

Since 1987, Bestway Group has donated more than £15 million to the Bestway Foundation in the UK. Each year the company hosts a charity race day at Ascot to raise funds for charity, an event that will be celebrating 30 years in 2023.

Lynn Perry MBE, CEO of Barnardo’s added:
Barnardo’s supports thousands of children, young people, and families across the UK, many of whom are living in poverty, struggling to access the very basics, or are struggling with complex issues like sexual abuse or poor mental health. 
“We are very grateful that Barnardo’s was chosen to receive the incredible donation of £100,000 raised at Bestway's 2022 Royal Ascot Charity Race Day. This money will play a critical role in helping us to reach more children who need support through our vital services
Lord Choudrey concluded:
The Annual Ascot Charity Race Day is just one of the ways that Bestway Foundation gives back to people in need, and we are incredibly grateful to our supplier partners and colleagues for supporting this annual event and donating generously to ticket purchases, the Charity Auction and other fundraising activities.”

Gut feeling: Consumers more concerned over gut health than ever #

New research commissioned by Glebe Farm, the only farm in the UK growing and processing gluten free oats, suggests the number of people conscious of their gut health is on the rise.  

The research, carried out with 2,000 UK adults, reveals that over half of adults (58%) want to improve their gut health and 42% say that they are taking active steps to do soi. Additionally, almost half (45%) are doing significantly more to support their immune system, and a number are following a ‘flexitarian’ diet with reduced consumption of meat (26%) and dairy (13%). 

Despite the fact that only 1% of the population are diagnosed with Coeliac disease, 5% say they follow a gluten free diet, and a further 6% say they would like toi. The research highlights the importance that caterers, restaurants and hotels cater for this ever-growing gluten free audience. 

Phil Rayner, Co-owner and Managing Director of Glebe Farm, said: “Our new research clearly shows that consumer choices are being driven by a whole range of factors. It’s evident that people are increasingly aware about what food and drink switches they can make in order to feel better physically and mentally. 

As a result, it’s more important than ever that the food and drink industry provides options which cater for those with Coeliac disease and food intolerances, as well as those looking for products that will positively impact their overall health and wellbeing.” 

The research also focused on the growing popularity of dairy-free alternatives to milk. Of the 42% now buying these products, oat drinks are the most popular - chosen by 38%. 

Improving gut health is the reason that 28% of all consumers say they would consider buying oat drinki. However, many of the oat-based products on supermarket shelves today are milled and manufactured at facilities that also process grains like wheat, barley or rye. This leads to contamination of the oats resulting in exposure to gluten and a loss of purity. Therefore, the products become unsuitable for the 1 in 100 people who are coeliacii. 

100% sown, grown, milled and packed in the UK, the farmers at Glebe Farm know where every single oat that goes into their products comes from. That means every oat is guaranteed to be of the best quality and 100% gluten-free. Even better, being British grown and produced means they have the lowest food miles on the market, making them the top choice for sustainable oat products. 

Phil Rayner commented: “We know that oat drinks have been growing in popularity for some time, which is reflected in the variety of products now on offer to consumers. We now see gut health as one of the key drivers of this which shows the importance of ensuring gluten and dairy free choices are accessible wherever people are – whether in retail or hospitality environments.” 

For more information about Glebe Farm and its range of award-winning products, visit

ExCeL London Becomes First Event Space in the UK to Introduce a Frictionless Checkout-Free Store, powered by Amazon’s Just Walk Out Technology #

Today sees the launch of ‘Market Express’ at London’s largest event venue ExCeL, becoming the first frictionless, checkout-free store within an events space in the UK.  

Driven by the desire of both ExCeL and its long-standing catering partner, Levy UK + Ireland, to be pioneers in retail tech, the store, powered by Amazon’s Just Walk Out technology, will further enhance the visitor food and beverage experience with the introduction of the latest checkout-free technology. Designed to be an effortless experience, this will speed up the customer journey, allowing them to purchase items without queuing to pay.

Visitors to ExCeL’s Market Express simply tap their payment card or mobile wallet upon entry and then the Amazon Just Walk Out technology detects what is picked up from or returned to its shelves, creating a virtual shopping session. When guests have completed their shopping experience, they are able to leave the store and their payment method will be charged for their items. Just Walk Out technology is made possible by artificial intelligence which accurately determines who took what in any retail environment.

Developed for ExCeL by Levy UK+I’s multi-disciplined service solution – BUILT by Levy – ‘Market Express’ has an extensive retail offer with something for everyone: hot beverages, nutritious grab-n-go hot meals, sweet and savoury bakery items, salads, sandwiches, a wall of fridges stocked with soft drinks, fruit juices, and milk-based drinks. An envious snack range including fruit, nuts, granola bars, cereal, biscuits, crisps, sweets, and chocolate; plus, essential convenience items from medical supplies and toiletries to reading glasses and umbrellas.

Rak Kalidas, MD of BUILT by Levy, said: “We’re excited to be part of another industry first and bring checkout-free technology to visitors of ExCeL. This follows the successful launch of frictionless kiosks within the Levy UK + Ireland stadia portfolio, so we know we have a winning formula which will transform the customer journey.”  

Simon Mills, Chief Commercial Officer at ExCeL, added: “With some 400 events and four million visitors every year, we are constantly looking at ways to further enhance our customer journey. Through our partnership with Levy UK+I, we can now provide a better, faster experience using proven safe technology, allowing more time for visitors to network, learn and trade around their event.”

Jon Jenkins, VP of Just Walk Out technology by Amazon, said: “We’re thrilled to collaborate with London’s largest event venue ExCeL to introduce the first checkout-free store within an event space in the UK, and we look forward to providing patrons of ExCeL a frictionless shopping experience with Just Walk Out technology.”

ExCeL, the home of world-leading events, was also the first UK venue to be awarded PAS 2060 certification, the only internationally recognised standard for carbon neutrality.

Joined up thinking on steroids #

With last month’s purchase of Kafoodle, 365 Retail Markets has sent out an even stronger message of their commitment to offer comprehensive solutions to catering teams - this is joined-up thinking on steroids having previously acquired Spoonfed which already works seamlessly with Kafoodle, giving users an unmatched level of compliance and efficiency!

The addition of recipe management software Kafoodle to the group of businesses already under the umbrella of 365 Retail Markets means they now sit alongside Spoonfed’s hospitality ordering system as a complete solution for those managing F&B in a range of contexts.

When 365 Retail Markets acquired Spoonfed in late 2021 it was part of a series of purchases filling the toolbox for those managing catering where there was diverse requirements and opportunities to offer solutions for efficiency, confidence, compliance and revenue growth.

Whether providing for meeting rooms, event spaces or micro markets etc 365 Retail Markets partnering with Spoonfed were covering the bases as they supported those serving the B&I and Education sectors and gave the means for them to find additional revenue avenues. Kafoodle adds to this support in a number of key ways.

"Kafoodle's technology is truly innovative and aligns with our commitment to providing data-led insight to our clients while streamlining their business processes" said 365 Retail
Markets CEO, Joe Hessling

"We are thrilled to welcome them to the 365 family, and we are excited about the possibilities.  Everyone in the food service industry has the same responsibility to provide key information about the food they serve, and Kafoodle's mission has always been to streamline how businesses accurately provide data to consumers" said Kafoodle Founder, Tarryn Gorre. 

"We are excited to join 365 Retail Markets's team, to offer global support to food service businesses and tackle the challenges surrounding what is in the food we consume and how it is sourcedAs with Spoonfed, Kafoodle's technology currently supports foodservice operators ranging from independent hospitality venues to large healthcare and educational organisations - when used together they provide accuracy, efficiency and comprehensive control for those taking catering seriously. We have added to our sales team this month as Spoonfed and Kafoodle continue to roll out a range of new and enhanced solutions,” said Spoonfed EVP Murray McNicol.

Asian plant-based street food opportunities and the future of UK coffee explored by food trend experts, Insights Lab by Egg Soldiers #

Egg Soldiers, one of the UK’s top foodservice development agencies, has been analysing potential areas for future coffee innovation via its pioneering food & drink trends service, Insights Lab, with robusta-driven Vietnamese creativity, lesser-known beans, and koji-enhanced coffee offerings identified as opportunities for the UK market in 2024.

In a dedicated article, which can be accessed here for free; Kateline Porritt, Head of Trends at Egg Soldiers, says:

Sustainability concerns are very much linked to the future of UK coffee. Arabica crops are particularly at-risk from climate change-driven rises in temperatures and extreme weather fluctuations, with climate conditions that reduce coffee yields more frequent over the past four decades, severely impacting coffee production globally.

“The timing of broader speciality-grade robusta innovation could well be now, with the traditionally unfavoured bean very much living up to its name in terms of robustness, possessing a genetic resilience to a variety of different environmental conditions. For UK brands, the robusta-driven Vietnamese craft coffee scene is certainly worth exploring.

“The issue of climate-resilience is also bringing lesser-known coffee bean varietals into the frame, with liberica entering the spotlight in recent months, while science-led innovation is also starting to take centre stage as innovators look to the brilliantly versatile Japanese mould, koji, to take coffee offerings to the next level.

Evolving street food trends in the UK has also been a recent focus area for Egg Soldiers’ Insights Lab as brands both big and small seek out ways of maximising their food offers amid the ongoing cost-of-living crisis.

In their free whitepaper, 'UK Hospitality Food & Drink Trends to Watch 2023/24', Insights Lab says that UK innovators will continue to find success within the broader reaches of Asian street food over the coming year, with the team this month discussing dishes that will resonate with plant-based audiences, outlining potential UK menu applications in 2023/24 for vegan-friendly versions of Japanese Okonomiyaki and Malaysian Karipap, and Bangladeshi Fuchka.

Okonomiyaki is a Japanese savoury pancake made with cabbage and spring onions cooked on a teppan and served with a variety of flavourful toppings and sauces,” Porritt says in a free article (available here).

Versatile, quick to make and with cheap base ingredients, okonomiyaki can be enjoyed on-the-go, or even at brunch. And while traditional versions are built from wheat batter made with eggs, plant-based binders are not hard to come by these days, allowing chefs to develop Insta-worthy, comforting, flavourful plant-based versions, establishing a new, globally-inspired street food dish on menus.

“Karipap, meanwhile, is the Malaysian version of the curry puff, with a potato curry filling a common feature across iterations - ripe for picnic and on-the-go occasions, and potentially as part of a bar snacks menu, with a few tweaks to the pastry.

“Lastly, Fuchka is one of those 'unintentional' vegan opportunities - a certified street food sensation with flexible filling opportunities and memorable sauce

Insights Lab by Egg Soldiers produces a bi-monthly food trends newsletter, often posts free deep dives on its website, and provides detailed reports and immersive workshops to inspire NPD teams and drive innovation for UK foodservice businesses, with the team ready to assist on both short- and long-term innovation strategies.