The Badger - The meat of the matter

The Badger - The meat of the matter

It’s hard to believe that we’re already half way through 2019 and the new ‘roaring 20s’ are less than six months away. A bit like 100 years ago when the 1920s started, we are in a time of great change, uncertainty and innovation, and our industry never fails to impress me in terms of its ability to reinvent itself and come up with new initiatives. Three stories have caught my eye this past month:

Still at an early stage, Novameat is a 3-D printed, plant-based fibrous steak and it’s the brainchild of Giuseppe Scionti, the founder and CEO of Novameat. He spoke and demonstrated his new product at the recent London Food Tech Week. Although it looks and feels texturally like steak at the moment, he is now developing the taste and nutrition part of the product with chefs and food technicians, as well as the large-scale production systems necessary to make it commercially viable, to have it on menus before 2022. His driver in developing the product is the urgent need to revolutionise the food system and introduce more meat alternatives to help save our planet.

I totally agree with the desire to reduce meat consumption because of the hugely positive impact that will have on the planet. I do, however, worry about meat alternatives that are being developed and, to be fair, some of these worries may be down to my lack of knowledge on the subject. However, my niggling doubt is that dietary advice seems to point towards avoiding processed foods; aren’t these meat replacement products by their very nature not highly processed foods? Perhaps these products are necessary if people will only give up meat if they have something that looks and tastes like it, and maybe they will prove to be no better or worse, from a dietary perspective, than the original real meat. Time will tell…

I recently read that Deliveroo has announced that it aims to reach a further 6.5m households across the UK during 2019. We are seen as one of their major markets, and they now work with many thousands of takeaways and restaurants across the country and claim to have been a major player in the creation of 25,000 new hospitality roles in their restaurant partners over the past six years. They certainly have big investors and hugely ambitious plans including, according to their press announcement: “New innovations in the food sector, for example through delivery-only super kitchens Editions, as well as new formats that will help restaurants expand to new areas at a lower cost and lower risk, bringing more choice to local neighbourhoods.”

I wrote about the food delivery giants over two years ago and said that we as an industry need to be working out how we can compete with them, or work with them, before they target our sector for their growth. The knowledge they are building about consumer preferences and spending points, food and recipe development, technology, customer interface and distribution is immense. It doesn’t take a genius to work out how they could start to offer a service to our clients – and those potential clients out there who perhaps don’t have the budget for a full-scale catering operation.

Houston & Hawkes
Congratulations to Simon Houston and Dave Hawkes on setting up their new company. New entrants to the sector are needed and the rise of challengers over the years, including many that are today’s big foodservice businesses, have brought new thinking and increased competition, which in turn has driven the wider industry to achieve more and at a higher standard.

The reason we’ve seen fewer start-ups in recent years is because the barriers and costs to entry are huge now compared with 15 to 20 years ago, so I’m pleased that Simon and Dave have managed to clamber over those barriers. It will be interesting to see what they achieve…

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