24 July 2016: ‘old’ supermarket food versus fresh market produce

Tom Rawstorne writes in the UK Daily Mail about the age of food sold in UK supermarkets – apples can be up to 12 months old, fish can be up to two years old, fresh salad and vegetables can be up to 3 weeks old. This all comes down to new and improved technologies that chill, store and treat fresh food to extend its life. The article  discusses  how much nutritional quality is retained through these technologies and treatments. Such revelations can only boost the case for shopping for fresh food on markets.


19 July 2016: does the new Arla/Asda milk initiative help the UK dairy industry?

Arla foods launched a new initiative with supermarket chain Asda on 12 July. This gives shoppers the opportunity to pay an extra 25 pence on a four-pint carton of both semi-skimmed and full fat milk. The extra 25p will be returned directly to the farmers in the corresponding co-operative grouping. The initiative is based on research that said 63% of shoppers asked, would be happy to pay more for milk if they knew the extra cost would be returned to farmers in this way.

However, as previously reported on this blog, and more recently in the local press:

“Milk prices have been at unsustainably low prices for several months now, leaving the prices paid to farmers by processors well below the cost of production.

Official Government figures show that the average farm gate milk price in May was 20.44p, which represented a fall of 1.13p or 5.3 per cent on the previous month, and which is some 10p below the 30p per litre level which is considered to be the break-even point for dairy farmers.”

In these challenging times, if feedback from Asda’s customers suggests that they are prepared to pay more, why should the additional cost of milk be a matter of choice by the customer, with no additional burden carried by the supermarket? If all Asda customers pay more for their milk, this would provide far more support for hard-pressed dairy farmers and pave the way for other supermarkets to follow their lead; this really would make this a ‘sustainable business’ initiative by Asda.

30 June: Brexit and the future of food

Although it is far too soon to understand the full implications of Brexit on  UK food – here are a couple of links to some first thoughts. The first is from Tim Lang, Professor of Food Policy at City University London featured in yesterday’s UK Guardian:


The second, aimed at the grocery sector,  is from the industry research group, IGD:


23 May 2016: London borough installs solar panels over marketplace

The London borough of Hounslow has installed 6000 solar panels over the rooftop of Western International wholesale market – it is the biggest solar scheme by any local authority – and has the added advantage of storing energy in batteries on-site.

You can read more – and see a photograph – here

4 February 2016 -new FRC report: School Neighbourhoods and Young People’s Food Choices

There is a new paper on the Food Research Collaboration website – Within Arm’s Reach: School Neighbourhoods and Young People’s Food Choices, written by Jan Moorhouse, Ariadne Kapetanaki and Wendy Wills.

You can download the paper here

The website has the following summary:

‘What factors underpin young people’s food and drink purchases in the vicinity of schools, on the way to and from school, and during the school day? There has been much written about school meals and their impact on children’s health but in this briefing paper we focus on the factors that inform food and drink purchasing by young people in the vicinity of school. This paper presents the state of knowledge concerning the school neighbourhood food and drink environment and its potential impact on young people’s food and drink choices.

In recent years much has been done to improve school meals and the limited availability of some popular but less healthy foods in secondary schools may have resulted in unintended consequences. Many young people are turning to fast food outlets, supermarkets and convenience stores outside school to buy their lunch, which can represent 23% of their daily food intake. Peer pressure coupled with perceptions that eating healthily isn’t ‘cool’ may also be contributory factors.

The researchers involved in this study argue that food outlets could offer ‘supersize’ promotions for healthy foods and not just for items such as crisps and sugary drinks to help drive down obesity. School cafeterias should provide a better dining experience – a crucial factor in improving young people’s food purchasing habits. Their need to be with friends is of vital importance and cafeterias need to do more to be seen as an acceptable social space, whilst promoting ‘tasty’ rather than ‘healthy’ food’.

30 January 2016: BBC Farming Today on organics

BBC radio 4’s  Farming Today  focused on organic farming – from Scottish whiskey to organic milk. The programme was broadcast from Pim Hill Farm in Shropshire – established as organic (although referred to as ‘muck and magic’) back in 1949. It is worth a listen – especially on the dilemmas of non-organic feed for dairy herds – and on the ups and downs of converting to organic, taste and trends

You can hear the  programme here

29 June 2014 – new UK reports on child poverty and food poverty

New reports on child poverty and food poverty in the UK – the first from the Social Mobility and Child Poverty Commission – and the second from Oxfam – that reports a 54% increase in the number of food parcels distributed last year – paint a bleak picture.

Andrew Naughtie comments:

‘With food prices rising faster than incomes, the situation will continue to deteriorate unless urgent action is taken to address inequality’

You can access the reports and read more here: