Members’ News

February 2024

Lexington launches Fat Macy’s café and training space #

Leading corporate contract caterer, Lexington Catering, has launched a dedicated café space at one of its client sites in partnership with social enterprise Fat Macy’s.
Fat Macy’s is a social enterprise that aims to get Londoners out of hostels and into their own homes. Fat Macy’s provides a structured opportunity for those experiencing homelessness with a clear pathway to independent living. As part of the scheme, trainees learn and master valuable culinary and hospitality skills from professional teams in real-life environments, including the new café at one of Lexington’s financial services client sites in central London.
The café specialises in Lebanese food based on the enterprise’s restaurant in Shoreditch, Sohaila. It will serve a combination of hot mains and grab-and-go food options throughout breakfast and lunch periods, as well as a morning and afternoon bakery and a new menu every week as seasonal stock and flavours move throughout the year. Hot drinks include coffee from Pact Coffee using our cafeina coffee beans.
Lexington and Fat Macy’s have worked in partnership since 2019. Now, their collaborative permanent café will support the trainee programme and will serve as a unique location for training their staff. The more hours the trainees do, the more skills they learn, and the more income is generated for them. The Fat Macy’s scheme also helps its trainees with financial literacy, with advice and guidance on saving money and paying their bills.
At the end of the programme, trainees will have the necessary skills to gain employment within the hospitality sphere with help from the Fat Macy’s team. Upon securing an income, Fat Macy’s will also provide the funds for a rental deposit so trainees can move into their own home.
Co-founders of Fat Macy’s, Nathalie Moukarzel and Meg Doherty, said: “We are extremely thankful to Lexington for their collaboration with us at Fat Macy’s over the last 4 years that has led to the opening of our new, permanent café at one of their client locations. Sites like these are paramount for our work with trainees, as we continue to grow and offer support to more people. We look forward to seeing the success of the new branch and serving delicious food to Lexington’s clients.”
Jesse Bliss, head of partnerships at Lexington said: “We’re incredibly proud to be working with Fat Macy’s and thrilled to be expanding the partnership even further. Fat Macy’s offers something truly unique in the business - from their delicious food to their dedicated team - everything they do has a purpose and the power to change someone’s life. We are humbled and honoured to play a small part in that journey."

Sodexo and UA92 Forge Partnership to Enhance Campus Experience #

The Sodexo UK and Ireland Corporate Services team is proud to announce a three-year partnership with University Academy 92 (UA92), which will enhance the overall campus experience for more than 800 students and staff. 
University Academy 92 (UA92) is a ground-breaking higher education institution co-founded by the Class of ‘92 and Lancaster University.  It is committed to making higher education accessible to all no matter the background, through its founding principles of accessibility, social mobility and inclusivity. UA92 offers a portfolio of degree and higher education courses across business, sport, media and digital disciplines, preparing students for the world of work by offering industry-led courses. 
Sodexo will provide catering, hospitality and events services on both UA92 campuses – Old Trafford campus and the UA92 Business School, Manchester city centre. This collaboration underscores Sodexo's commitment to creating innovative and tailored solutions. 
As part of the partnership, Sodexo has introduced its renowned Kitchen Works Co. concept. This culinary offering, based on the latest consumer insights, features a diverse range of globally inspired dishes, plant-based options and a convenient grab-and-go selection, creating a welcoming space for students to refuel and recharge. 
In alignment with Sodexo's ethos of social responsibility and community engagement, the partnership also sees the implementation of Change Please initiatives on the UA92 campuses. The unique Change Please programme empowers individuals experiencing homelessness by providing barista training, offering them paid work experience in Change Please outlets across the UK and partner businesses, and supporting their journey toward sustained employment, housing and therapy. 
Julie Ennis, CEO Corporate Services for Sodexo UK & Ireland, expressed her enthusiasm for the collaboration, stating: "We are thrilled to partner with UA92, a visionary institution committed to fostering excellence and holistic development. Sodexo's comprehensive services, including our Kitchen Works Co. and Change Please offerings, aim to create a vibrant campus atmosphere that goes beyond traditional catering, nurturing the well-being and aspirations of the entire UA92 community." 
Dr Bilal Mohammed, Director of People and Operations for UA92, shared his perspective on the partnership, saying: "This collaboration with Sodexo aligns seamlessly with our mission to provide an outstanding experience for our students. We look forward to the positive impact the integration of Sodexo's innovative service will have on our community." 
Sodexo's commitment to excellence extends beyond the dining experience, with the integration of technologies such as the Everyday app and Smart Fridges as part of the café operation. Additionally, plans for a barista academy, in collaboration with Change Please, are underway, enhancing opportunities for skill development and further promoting a sense of community on campus. 
Sodexo’s Corporate Services business delivers workplace services, facilities management and food services to some of the world’s most recognisable brands. Its teams have expertise operating across a range of different environments in the corporate sector, including headquarters, regional offices, data centres, manufacturing centres and research and development hubs, in sectors as diverse as professional services, financial services, pharmaceuticals, media and technology.

Compass Group UK & Ireland announces proposed acquisition of CH&CO #

This exciting acquisition brings together two well-known names in the industry

Compass Group UK & Ireland, the UK’s largest food and support services business, has today agreed to acquire CH&CO, subject to regulatory approval. CH&CO is a dynamic and successful food business in the UK and Ireland, with operations covering, workplace catering, events, venues, visitor attractions, stadia, education, healthcare and hospitality. It has been a Royal Warrant Holder since 2013. The business has 10,000 employees, supporting over 900 clients across 1,000 locations.   

The proposed acquisition aims to capitalise on the great strengths of both businesses, including their passion for food, client-centred approach, strong people focused culture, and commitment to sustainability.   

The combined business has the potential to accelerate innovation, further enhancing the client and customer experience, as well as providing access to broader career progression opportunities for employees.   

Following completion, the intention is that CH&CO's portfolio of companies, which include Gather & Gather, Vacherin and Company of Cooks, will join Compass Group's family of brands, resulting in a broad and exciting client proposition.    

Robin Mills, CEO, Compass Group UK & Ireland said:  
“I have always admired CH&CO and its real passion for food. I believe that by combining our strengths the proposed acquisition will bring a multitude of benefits to clients, customers and employees. Together we have the potential to create even more compelling and innovative solutions for our clients and customers, as well as a wider range of career opportunities for our talented people in both organisations.”  

Bill Toner, CEO, CH&CO, added: 
“We’re delighted that Compass wants to acquire CH&CO. The prospect of joining a leading global provider of food services offers huge potential for us and our clients. Creativity and innovation are skills that we share with Compass and food is at the heart of everything we do.

“Both businesses have strong and complementary brands, and subject to regulatory approval, there is a great opportunity for us to learn from each other and to build an even more exciting future together.” 

FEA invites you to meet the experts at HRC 2024 #

Advice and insight from around the foodservice industry will be on tap

The Foodservice Equipment Association (FEA) is once again a key partner with the HRC for what promises to be the biggest and best show yet, showcasing the activities of the association and its members.

A new addition to HRC will be the FEA’s Light Equipment and Tableware pavilion, which will give visitors a chance to see the latest products FEA member companies are bringing to market in this dynamic sector.

FEA is also running a number of keynote sessions with experts discussing important subjects for the industry, including the Energy Technology List and the opportunities it offers; finding and choosing sustainable equipment; and how to choose the right options for servicing and maintaining equipment.

FEA will be holding a gala graduation event celebrating the latest candidates who have completed FEA’s industry standard Certified Food Professional (CFSP) course – which this year includes John Cunningham, FEA’s recently appointed Chief Executive! It also plans to recognise the first cohort of graduates for FEA’s new sustainability training course, Foodservice Carbon Professional (FCP), which is designed to give participants the information they need to understand the issues surrounding climate change and how it affects the hospitality and foodservice equipment industries.

“Providing education and guidance is a key part of FEA’s mission, and this is reflected in the activities we’re planning for this year’s HRC,” says Paul Anderson, chair of FEA. “We’ll have a range of professionals on our stand and on FEA members’ stands who’ll be able to offer authoritative guidance to any equipment questions visitors may have, in addition to our exciting line up of speakers.”

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 

Sodexo launches start-up applications for its Global Accelerator programme #

Sodexo has opened applications for its 2024 global Accelerator programme, an initiative aimed at boosting the collaboration between Sodexo and startups, a key force for Sodexo to have a finger on the pulse of the latest trends and disruptions in the service industry.
For startups, working with Sodexo is an opportunity to ‘accelerate’ their development by benefiting from experienced business mentors, decades of industry knowledge and a global client footprint. Selected startups will be primed to scale their business and work with Sodexo for the long-term, while contributing to its innovation process.
After several successful local editions in key markets, including the UK in 2022 as well as the US and Brazil, this new global edition of Sodexo’s Accelerator programme is a first.
It will focus on identifying innovative solutions to enhance the workplace experience of our consumers worldwide through a 10-week programme.
Martin Boden, CEO, Sodexo Global Strategic Accounts said: “We’re excited to launch the 2024 Global Accelerator, further demonstrating our commitment to bring innovation at scale to our clients, who are leading players in their industries. This is an exceptional opportunity both for us and for disruptive startups to partner together to continue to evolve our service offering.”
For this global edition, Sodexo is asking for applications in five key areas of focus:

Data Analytics to improve the use of data across its client accounts and allow Sodexo to make sure their clients’ teams are communicating as effectively as possible, making data-informed decisions.

Sustainability to focus on how to measure and assess carbon impact across activities and initiatives and create solutions that can help reduce carbon emissions across Sodexo’s services.

Consumer Experience to explore solutions to increase the ease and accessibility of clients’ sites, improve the flexibility of their workforce and optimize resource utilization to deliver the best possible consumer experience. They wish to understand how they can capture the voice of their consumers seamlessly to ensure they are driving continuous improvement.

Operational Efficiency to provide practical solutions that can streamline workflows, optimize resources, digitize and modernize processes.

Wildcard to add value to Sodexo’s business and that of its clients. 

To apply, please click here
Applications will close on February 25th 2024, at 23:59, and those who will be successful will go live in May, facilitated by corporate innovation specialist, L Marks.
Daniel Saunders, CEO of L Marks, said: “We are delighted at L Marks to continue our long-standing partnership with Sodexo and launch of the Global Accelerator. Sodexo has proven commitment to innovation, with dozens of successful implementations to date.  Within this new program, we are excited to uncover the most innovative solutions that will deliver value for Sodexo and its clients across the globe.”

UWS launches web ordering analytics reporting platform in partnership with TWC Group #

United Wholesale Scotland (UWS) announces a further partnership with TWC Group as the Scottish wholesaler launches a market leading web analytics reporting solution.

UWS has extended its partnership with TWC and commissioned a suite of additional reports that track online purchasing behaviour on the UWS App and website.  The reports are available to suppliers now via the existing TWC/UWS sales reporting platform. They report how retailers interact with the wholesaler’s e-commerce sites and how brand activation and sales performance compares online versus offline.  Currently, rich B2B ecommerce data is extremely limited, and a growing share of UWS’s sales are now made online, which means that it is important that suppliers can access these analytics so that they can accurately plan customised online and offline marketing activity as well as measure the impact of campaigns.   
Commenting on the solution, Chris Gallacher, Managing Director at UWS said:
“There is plenty of information available in the marketplace how consumers interact with digital platforms – but B2B insight is far harder to find…so we decided to find out ourselves, from our own customers.  TWC Group is our data partner for reporting wholesale shipments out of depot so it was natural to ask them to develop an online solution to sit aside our existing data infrastructure.  They have done a fantastic job for us, in super quick time.”
“We had a load of questions before starting the project. Like, how do our customers use our e-commerce solution?  When do they shop with us? What devices do they use?  But once we got started, we became even more inquisitive – how is ‘paid-for-media’ influencing spend and purchases, what campaigns are driving greatest click-through rates and so on.  Knowing the actual answers to these critical issues was important for us to develop our e-commerce strategy for 2024, in partnership with our suppliers”.

“United Wholesale Scotland has partnered with TWC to develop this market leading web analytics reporting suite so that we can not only monitor retail and wholesale sales but also now understand online sales trends and customer behaviours so that our suppliers can create customised plans for online and offline sales to retailers.  This is all part of our approach to be a data-led wholesaler, working closely with TWC on a single source of insight.”
“We are delighted with the quality and depth of insight we are now getting from our customers who order online with us.  We are getting a full 360-degree view of our retailers’ views – connecting retailers’ online behaviour with their off-line behaviour has meant we can now get one clear view of a customers’ total purchasing behaviour with us.  We think this is pretty groundbreaking in the wholesale industry and are grateful to our data partners, TWC, for delivering this project on time and on budget.”

This initiative coincides with UWS recruiting a Director of e-commerce at the end of 2023 who will help drive our growth in online sales while at the same time making shopping online frictionless for our delivered customers’
Tanya Pepin, MD of TWC Group said:
“It is natural that as more wholesale sales moves online that web analytics are going to become more important for wholesalers and suppliers.  We are delighted to have partnered with Chris and the team at UWS on delivering yet another tech project for one of our loyal wholesaler clients.  This project highlights our shared passion for the wholesale channel and mutual desire to see it thrive.
We always strive for long term partnerships with our clients in line with our values of loyalty and customer-centricity and this partnership is proving to be no different.  We know the proposition will continue to evolve – we look forward to supporting Chris and the team to enhance the functionality over time.”

HRC announces Lisa Goodwin-Allen as Chef Ambassador for 2024 #

HRC, part of Food, Drink & Hospitality Week, the business event for hospitality and foodservice professionals, has announced that Lisa Goodwin-Allen will be the show’s Chef Ambassador for 2024.

Leading the kitchen brigade at Northcote since the age of 23 and a regular face on Britain’s TV screens, she draws inspiration from the beautiful Ribble Valley landscape in Lancashire to produce stunning dishes that showcase the wide range of incredible produce the region has to offer.

Beyond the kitchen, Lisa has become a familiar face on British television, impressing audiences and judges alike with her skills on shows like the Great British Menu and James Martin's Saturday Morning. In a memorable Snackmasters episode, she was also crowned "Burger Queen" for her masterful recreation of the iconic Burger King Whopper in a head-to-head battle with Chef Claude Bosi.

Lisa is also a passionate advocate for charities and social causes, working tirelessly to support organisations including Springboard, Hospitality Action and Action Against Hunger. In addition to her role as Chair of Judges for Craft Guild of Chefs Young National Chef of the Year, she has been a guest judge for NHS National Chef of the Year and is Chef Ambassador for Slow Food in the UK and Taste Lancashire.

As part of her role as Chef Ambassador for HRC 2024 Goodwin-Allen will be taking part in a must-attend keynote session on the show’s Vision Stage and will be a guest of historic chef competition International Salon Culinaire.

Goodwin-Allen comments: “I'm excited to be joining HRC as Chef Ambassador for 2024 and look forward to networking with the chef community and discussing the latest trends and challenges in the world of hospitality.”

Jo Farish, Event Manager for HRC, adds: “In addition to being a hugely talented chef and inspiring leader at Northcote, Lisa is an amazing advocate for young chefs and for our industry charities, not to mention a passionate champion of local produce and the food of Lancashire.

“We’re delighted to have her joining us at HRC 2024!”

This year’s event will also see Chef HQ, curated by Chef Publishing, returning to HRC with a packed line-up of talented chefs and famous faces in the UK culinary scene, including chef and restaurateur Glynn Purnell, chef proprietor of The Elephant, Simon Hulstone, and Fenchurch Head Chef Kerth Gumbs. Plus, fresh from their epic row across the Atlantic in aid of Hospitality Action, Chris Mitchell and Robbie Laidlaw of Genuine Dining will be taking to the stage to discuss their incredible effort.

HRC will take place alongside IFE, IFE Manufacturing, The Pub Show and International Salon Culinaire on 25-27 March 2023 at ExCeL London. To find out more about everything happening at this year’s event, and to register for your complimentary trade ticket, visit

Rising stars join Nestlé Professional Toque d’Or judging panel #

Nestlé Professional has revealed Tom Booton, executive chef of The Grill by Tom Booton (At The Dorchester), and Jupiter Humphrey-Bishop, winner of the 2023 Gold Service Scholarship and footman at The Royal Household, as the latest judges for Toque d’Or 2024.  

Tom Booton is considered one of London’s most exciting young talents. In 2019, at the age of 26, he became the youngest chef to head up the kitchen at The Grill having previously worked at restaurants including Le Talbooth in Essex, the Michelin-starred Alyn Williams at The Westbury and L’Autre Pied. From his pot washing days at the age of 15 to now having his name above the door at the Park Lane hotel restaurant, Tom’s creative flair, attention to detail and extensive knowledge in modern British cuisine will help inspire the budding chefs and restaurateurs competing.  

Jupiter Humphrey-Bishop is another coup for the competition and rounds off the 10-strong team of expert judges. An incredibly strong passion and enthusiasm for hospitality saw Jupiter become the 2023 Gold Service Scholarship’s Scholar at the tender age of 23. As well as scooping industry accolades at the start of her career, Jupiter is recognised in her current role at The Royal Household, and as a future leader of the industry with her position on the Institute of Hospitality Youth Council.  

Tom and Jupiter join an incredibly talented judging panel including award-winning chef and restaurateur Tommy Banks; Creed Foodservice executive development chef Rob Owen; Nestlé’s senior confectioner John Costello; Nestlé Professional’s global executive chef Emmanuel Lorieux and coffee trainers Aaron Dunn and Jo Walsh. This year’s competition will also see the return of former Toque d’Or competitors – both winners and finalists – including 2021 FOH winner Sophie Taylor, 2018 FOH winner Antonia McFarlane, 2023 FOH winner Joshua Kerr and 2023 BOH finalist Emily Simkins.  

Tom said: “For me, a combination of passion, hard work and determination is absolutely key in helping you achieve your career goals. My aspiration is to continue evolving as a chef in the industry and this includes joining a prestigious industry competition in Toque d’Or as back of house judge, where I look forward to giving back by inspiring others to follow their passion for food.”  

Jupiter said: “My journey began in hospitality aged 15 and immediately lit a spark of passion for the industry. I realised early on in my career why I fell in love with hospitality; it’s all about making others happy and creating unforgettable memories through delivering impeccable levels of service. I’m so pleased to have joined the Toque d’Or judging panel. Firstly, it’s a privilege to be alongside such talented judges who are pushing the boundaries – they’re an inspiration to me. But I also look forward to meeting the competitors and being able to share my industry knowledge and passion with them at such an important and exciting time in their careers.”  

Katya Simmons, managing director Nestlé Professional UK&I says, “We’re delighted to welcome both Tom and Jupiter to the 2024 Toque d’Or judging panel. Their youthfulness and energy, together with their incredible talent and outstanding industry knowledge, will really resonate and inspire our 2024 cohort.    

“With our diverse, young range of highly talented industry experts, this year’s Toque d’Or is set to be one to remember.” 

LLDC and Peppermint announce partnership to reimagine dining and events space on Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park #

Award-winning Peppermint appointed as the new operator for dining and events space on Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park.

Transformation will boast a stunning rooftop garden with panoramic views over East London, 300-cover café/restaurant across two floors, and dedicated street food area.

The lease will run for 7 years with option to extend.

Peppermint will start a matchday offer from February but will fully launch the new destination from Spring 2024.

The London Legacy Development Corporation (LLDC) is excited to be working in partnership with Peppermint Events, an award-winning bar and events specialist, to introduce a fresh dining, drinks and events concept. The versatile and rejuvenated space will open on Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park this Spring.

The lease, spanning seven years with the option to extend, will cover the operation of the Podium building and external spaces situated by the ArcelorMittal Orbit and Slide on the Park. Peppermint will be investing and reimagining the existing space within the Podium footprint to create a unique offering for the area. The transformation will boast a stunning rooftop garden with panoramic views over East London, 300-cover café/restaurant and hospitality space across two floors, and dedicated street food area. Guests can expect outdoor screenings, DJ’s, markets, and seasonal events throughout the year. The venue will also be available for private hires and corporate events.

The Terrace: a brand-new low-waste, hyper-seasonal and sustainable casual dining experience is also a versatile events space, complete with enviable roof terrace overlooking London.

The Café: delivering an accessible and exciting café concept that serves breakfast, brunches, and lunches, this will be a space that welcomes both social and casual customers throughout the week, year-round.

The Courtyard: creating London’s newest outdoor F&B space with exciting new street food vendors from the local area and fast service drinks from new infrastructure whilst creating an easy ordering mechanic for the River terrace.

Peppermint has over 20 years of experience and innovation providing award-winning high-performance food and drink solutions to some of the UK’s greatest venues across the UK, including festivals and sporting events. The collaborative venture represents a significant development in reimagining the potential of urban food and drink spaces, breathing new life into the community, and offering a unique and dynamic environment to a host of events.

Situated in the heart of Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park by the landmark ArcelorMittal Orbit and Slide, the new space will be a testament to creativity and innovation.

Part of the team behind Southbank’s Between the Bridges destination venue, Peppermint, is experienced at programming events to cater for every audience.

Both parties are committed to sustainable practices and eco-friendly initiatives. The venue will prioritise sustainability in its design, operations, and services, including collaborating with regional suppliers and manufacturers.

Edward Fane, Head of Venues at Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, said: “We are delighted to be partnering with Peppermint Events to create another vibrant food hospitality and event destination space on Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park. It’s great that the Park is constantly evolving with new offerings including new attractions, events, and visitor experiences.”

Matt Simkin, Head of Venues and Partnerships at Peppermint, said: “This collaboration between the London Legacy Development Corporation and Peppermint is really exciting. We are thrilled to be part of this transformative project that will not only bring life and energy to this exceptional space but promises to be a hub that caters to the diverse needs of the local community – from remote workers to football supporters, students to young mums. Our goal is to create a sought-after multi-purpose destination for unforgettable experiences.” 

More details about the programming and food and drink offer will be released closer to the re-opening in early Spring. Any enquiries should be sent to

Unitas launches 'connect24' its Annual Trade Show with a focus on connections, growth, opportunities and celebrating success #

Unitas Wholesale has unveiled a fresh new look, feel and name for its annual trade show, taking place in Liverpool on 6th - 7th March this year, connect24.

connect24 will focus on the importance of connecting Unitas members to their supplier partners, providing invaluable opportunities to build and develop relationships that will drive growth throughout 2024 and beyond.

This event builds on the successful Unitas Conference held in September, where delegates heard how the Unitas membership is “Growing Faster” than the wholesale sector, “Reaching Higher” with their continued investments to accelerate growth further, and “Stronger Together” by working collaboratively with supplier partners.

connect24 has been designed to deliver exciting opportunities for even further growth, including an enhanced out of home presence with leading foodservice suppliers such as Premier and Unilever chefs showcasing their NPD and product sampling. A new attraction this year is the introduction of the On Trade bar area, sampling exciting NPD and demonstrating the “perfect serve”, plus the expansion of the Local Living retail own brand range will be a key feature of the show.

The annual Unitas Member & Supplier Awards dinner will take place on Wednesday 6th March, this prestigious evening event will highlight the outstanding achievements among Unitas Membership, recognising their remarkable successes and the excellent support provided by their valued supplier partners.

John Kinney, MD at Unitas Wholesale, said: “As the name suggests, connect24 is going to place even more emphasis on strengthening connections and relationships, demonstrating that we are Stronger Together. We’ve listened and adapted to ensure we’re bringing members and suppliers together in an even more mutually beneficial format, our app will allow members and suppliers to book dedicated meetings during the show, which alongside the exclusive deals, informative presentations, and evening networking, will make this a key event to drive growth in 2024.

“We have a few surprises up our sleeve, and with approximately 200 suppliers in attendance, plus a record number of members attending, connect24 is set to be our biggest and best trade event to date, beating last year’s 2.9m cases sold.”

The event will commence on Wednesday morning with the Unitas senior management team presenting to both suppliers and members with an update on the Unitas strategies and activities that will provide further opportunities for mutual growth in 2024.

For more information on connect24, attending and digital advertising opportunities, head to

Christmas 2023 Paints an Improving Market Picture: Lumina Intelligence Eating and Drinking Out Panel Insights #

As we bid farewell to the festive season of 2023, industry insights from the Lumina Intelligence Eating and Drinking Out Panel reveal a promising market outlook. The data showcases considerable improvements driven by a combination of factors, including easing inflation and energy costs.
Easing Inflation Boosts Market Metrics in the Festive Period

Participation in the eating and drinking out market saw a notable uptick, with a positive change of +2.8 percentage points in December 2023 compared to the previous year. The substantial improvement is attributed to a decrease in inflation, which halved during this period. Additionally, the easing of energy costs played a pivotal role, enticing more consumers to actively engage in the market.
Dinner Occasions Rise Due to Reliable Train Travel

Dinner occasions witnessed a year-on-year rebound, seizing an increased share by +6.1%. Last year, frequent train strikes had hindered dinner occasions as consumers were apprehensive about challenging journeys home. However, with minimal transport disruption this year, reliable train travel became a catalyst for increased evening socialising, contributing to the surge in dinner occasions.
Christmas Parties Bolster Restaurant Trading

Restaurants emerged as the biggest beneficiaries of the festive season, experiencing the highest growth in occasion share. The absence of train strikes removed restrictions on consumers, enabling them to enjoy Christmas parties and meals in restaurants without concerns about transportation disruptions. Furthermore, coffee and sandwich occasions remained consistently high, with in-person Christmas shoppers contributing to robust sales in this channel.
These insights, provided by the Lumina Intelligence Eating and Drinking Out Panel, offer a comprehensive overview of the market dynamics during Christmas 2023. The data highlights a positive correlation between economic factors and consumer behaviour, emphasising the impact of easing inflation and reliable transport on the overall market performance.

Vegan Vox: Veganuary in the live events industry #

Leading the charge for vegan innovation at the NEC Group are the Vox Conference Venue’s General Manager Mark Charlampowicz and Executive Chef Aaron Johnson-Waters.

As more people embrace plant-based diets for Veganuary, Mark and Aaron have given their thoughts on the benefits of integrating vegan food into menus at events, highlighting what event-goers can expect from their food in 2024.

Mark said: “We’re passionate about vegan food – for us, it’s not a distraction, it’s an enhancement. Our first step is to consider the seasonality of the food, before letting our culinary team go to work.

“We want our guests to leave feeling valued and a large part of that is feeling satisfied with well thought out food options which give them energy to engage with the content of their event.”

Aaron agrees, adding: “Providing vegan options caters for diverse dietary preferences and requirements, ensuring everyone can find something suitable to eat.

“I try to focus on fresh ingredients including fruits and vegetables, whole grains, nuts, seeds, and plant-based proteins like tofu, tempeh and seitan, while incorporating seasonal produce for the best possible taste and smallest impact on the environment.”

As part of the NEC Group, the Vox had its dishes accredited by the Vegetarian Society in November 2022. The accreditation provides full traceability of ingredients with the additional use of the Vegetarian Society Approved vegan trademark – and it’s something Mark and his team are keen to build on.

“40% of the food we serve at the Vox is plant-based, which we’re proud of and we’re always trying to increase that number,” said Mark.

“Our guests love that we embrace veganism, even to the point where some of our clients who are not vegan will choose our vegan dishes because of their taste and vibrancy.”

Aaron continued: “We’re always looking to educate new clients on the benefits of vegan and how we’ve created diverse menus for events in the past. Event sustainability and health consciousness has contributed to this change too, with clients eager to keep their guests engaged, promote healthier lifestyles and reduce the environmental impact of their event.”

As for vegan food in 2024 and beyond? Mark and Aaron say trends in vegan spheres are ever evolving.

Aaron said: “The future of vegan food is bright. There have been recent advancements in plant-based alternatives like lab-grown meats and innovative plant-based seafood which is exciting and something we’re monitoring.

“In terms of the Vox, I’ve just finished writing our new menu pack for 2024. We want to keep pushing the boundaries of locally sourced vegan food and we have a great array of dishes in the pipeline for clients this year.”

Hospitality leaders to gather at spring sustainability summit #

The commercial, brand, customer and labour implications of climate change are increasingly evident - and progressive business leaders across hospitality are taking action.
The Planet Peach sustainability Summit will interrogate the very latest data and a dynamo line-up of experts will provide real-world strategies to help organisations accelerate their sustainability goals. The afternoon conference takes place 5 March at 30 Euston Square, London​​​​​​.
Find out more and book HERE.
Use Promo Code: ARENA30 to save 30%.

The Planet Peach Sustainability Summit, a co-production between Peach 20/20 and leading communications agency Fleet Street is a new event aimed at c-suite executives, founders, entrepreneurs and investors.
Speakers will consider the moral, reputational and brand challenges as well as the opportunities for customer and employee loyalty, reducing costs and attracting investors. Find out more about the summit and speakers HERE​​​​​​​.
“This is a vital issue. Make no mistake, sustainability is rising up board agendas and directors and investors all need to be engaged,“ said Peter Martin.

“This is not another talking shop. The summit sessions will rigorously interrogate the data, explore practical solutions and invite debate and discussion from executive level operators, major suppliers and independent subject matter specialists,”
added Mark Stretton.
The agenda will cover the challenges of the supply chain, investment, politics, technological advances and communication, as well as examining how individual businesses and the sector collectively can build on the progress and commitment already made. 

Following the afternoon conference session discussions will continue over drinks. Expect the usual Peachy mix of board-level, actionable insight and unrivalled networking.
The Planet Peach Sustainability Summit is supported by the Zero Carbon Forum and UKHospitality. Nutritics, the food data management specialist, is headline sponsor.

Cyrus Todiwala drums up support for Zest Quest Asia 2024 Awards Night #

Tickets now available for 27th February 2024 Gala Dinner

Cyrus Todiwala OBE DL, chef patron of landmark Indian restaurant, Café Spice Namaste, and co-founder with Pervin Todiwala of Zest Quest Asia, has been busy encouraging friends and associates in industry and education to support the student finalists of Zest Quest Asia at the competition’s eleventh gala dinner and awards night in February next year.

Since launching Zest Quest Asia 2024, interest has flowed in from colleges across the UK and, following an ‘Upskill Day’ run by Zest Quest Asia director Murray Chapman, for the second year running, a college from Scotland, Highland College, has fielded a team; a sure sign that the competition is gaining traction north of the border.

Cyrus is confident that the fact that Zest Quest Asia 2024 has already attracted a number of excellent sponsors - including long-time supporter Tilda Foodservice, this year debuting as headline sponsor - means the industry is starting to throw its full weight behind the competition, launched in 2013 with the support of the Master Chefs of Great Britain.  Further evidence is the support this year of the Institute of Hospitality, the prestigious 85-year-old global professional body.

Hilton has returned as a gold sponsor, offering its 4-star Hilton London Wembley hotel as the venue for the 3-course gala dinner to be prepared by Cyrus on 27th February.  Hilton is also offering special accommodation rates for those who choose to celebrate the Zest Quest Asia finalists on the night.

Cyrus Todiwala said, “In the past we have been pleased to welcome many of our industry brethren to the Zest Quest Asia gala dinner.  They’ve come to support a competition that recognises talent in Asian cuisine among young student chefs.  It’s a talent that if nurtured and celebrated can give so much confidence to people especially in these days of global uncertainty.  One thing is for sure – the world is looking eastward.  Zest Quest Asia is helping to prepare our great industry for this eventuality.  I urge you to join us on 27th February at the Hilton London Wembley hotel, and thank all our sponsors for being there for us.  Everything we make from ticket sales goes back to supporting this great competition, which has already helped to change the perspective of Asian cookery and cuisine among hundreds of student chefs.  Besides, don’t we all want to learn which secret Asian culinary destination awaits our new champions?”

As is tradition, the canapes at the drinks reception preceding the gala dinner will be prepared by current Zest Quest Asia champions, University of West London, who spent over a week in Bangkok as their main prize.

Tickets for the Gala Dinner and Awards Night are now on sale priced at £110pp, or £1,000 per table of 10, and include the drinks reception and 3-course dinner with wines.  Please follow this link to book.

For more information on Zest Quest Asia 2024 visit

Délifrance innovates with Les Passionnés, a new range of intensely delicious and premium viennoiserie products #

Inspired by the expertise and passion of French artisan bakers, leading bakery supplier Délifrance has today launched Les Passionnés, part of their Héritage premium range, consisting of a ready-to-bake Croissant and Pain au chocolat. 

The rich, voluminous Croissant is generously proportioned with 24 layers of puff pastry and a butter content. Its crispy yet fluffy texture will satisfy just as the ever-indulgent Pain au chocolat will with its artisan-style, domed shape. 

Designed to meet customer expectations in terms of taste, quality and convenience, the new products have been created using responsible sourcing and with high-quality standards in place. Made with carefully selected ingredients such as sourdough, fine butter, free-range eggs, Rainforest Alliance-certified cocoa and French flour, the new viennoiserie range aligns with Délifrance's "Go Clean" policy, which ensures a responsible and clean label approach. 

Stéphanie Brillouet, marketing director at Délifrance says: “Les Passiones are a wonderful addition to the Heritage viennoiserie. Their shape is closer to artisan-style pastries as well as their carefully selected ingredients and taste. Quality and convenience are central to our philosophy and product development ethos. Our innovative and premium approach to bakery, supported by expertise and passion means we can offer our customers the best products, made with the best ingredients to delight their customers.” 

Sold frozen in boxes of 60, both products are now available via Délifrance from national wholesalers. 

For more information visit:  

Toby Magness joins FEA council #

Anderson: “His depth of experience makes him ideal for his new role”

FEA has co-opted Toby Magness to the association’s council.  Having spent most of his working life in the industry, Magness is a hugely knowledgeable foodservice equipment professional.  For the last five years he has been with Ambach where, as UK sales director, he manages the British market for the manufacturer.  More recently he has also taken on responsibility for some other brands within the Ali Group. 

Magness has a thorough understanding of most aspects of the commercial kitchen, having worked in warewashing, refrigeration and prime cooking equipment.  His clients have ranged from small independents to international groups and he’s dealt with every part of the supply chain, including consultants, designers, distributors and manufacturers.  “The variety and depth of his experience is a real strength and makes him ideal for this new role,” says Paul Anderson, chair of FEA.  “I’m absolutely delighted that he’s agreed to join the council.” 

At 52, Magness feels it’s time to give something back to the foodservice equipment industry, and to FEA.  “Membership of FEA has been hugely beneficial for Ambach,” he says.  “The association has supported us with guidance and policy information about everything from Brexit to regulatory changes.” 

He believes his experience in connectivity and IOT (the Internet of Things) can benefit FEA members.  “At Ambach we’ve done a lot of work in Europe and Middle East in these areas, and while they are yet to really get traction in the UK, they will certainly be important elements of future kitchen designs.”  He’s also keen to get involved in FEA’s sustainability initiatives. 

Magness adds, “Joining the council and product group forums will get me closer to the coalface and help me better understand the challenges faced by the wider industry.  I am proud to have been co-opted and look forward to working with FEA to help achieve the association’s goals.”

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 

The sky’s the limit for PureOaty #

British oat producer Glebe Farm Foods has today announced a milestone tender win for its PureOaty brand in the form of a new contract to supply British Airways’ (BA) long-haul business.

The new partnership sees PureOaty’s award-winning Barista oat drink supplied to the prestigious airline, where it is being served in hot drinks on board longer international flights departing Gatwick and Heathrow.

The tender saw dairy-free milk brands competing for the business, with PureOaty coming out on top in live trials. Scoring high for its taste and impressive performance in tea and coffee, the brand is also an 100% British-made product, making it the perfect BA partner.

In addition, PureOaty is the only gluten-free oat drink on the UK market to be certified by Coeliac UK, helping BA meet its high standards of passenger comfort, safety, and inclusivity. The brand also boasts stand-out sustainability credentials, with PureOaty’s food miles coming in at a mere 150 metres thanks to the entirety of Glebe Farm Foods’ processing and packing taking place at its Cambridgeshire site.

Philip Rayner, Managing Director of Glebe Farm Foods, commented: “To say we’re flying high with this win would be an understatement. British Airways is an iconic, homegrown brand synonymous with impeccable standards, so to secure such a significant contract is a real milestone for our business. We’re also delighted to collaborate with an airline so aligned to our core values in terms of environmental practices, proud heritage, and championing of British-made products.

“Thanks to a seamless start, the partnership is already off the ground and passengers are now taking to the skies while enjoying their favourite hot drink made with delicious, barista-quality PureOaty.”