Blueberries could boost children’s memory

New research published in the European Journal of Nutrition found that eating blueberries could give children a significant memory boost.

The randomised control trial recruited 54 children  between  seven  to  ten  years  old, and asked them to drink a 200ml wild blueberry drink or a placebo. The wild blueberry drink contained 253mg anthcyanins,  and  was  the  equivalent  to about one and a half cups of fresh blueberries (about a punnet).

Researchers then assessed the children’s verbal memory, cognitive function and reasoning efficiency before and two hours after the drink was consumed. The team found children who had drunk the blueberry concoction showed improved reaction times and cognitive function, dubbed executive function (EF).

The report states: “Consumption of the wild blueberry drink was found to significantly improve memory and attentional aspects of EF. This indicates that a flavonoid-rich blueberry product, equivalent to  240  g or one and a half cups of fresh blueberries can provide acute cognitive benefits in children.

“These findings support accumulating evidence that flavonoid-rich products are  beneficial  for  healthy  brain  function, particularly during critical developmental periods.”

Dr Emma Derbyshire, public health nutritionist and adviser to British Summer Fruits commented,   “This was a well- designed trial and implies that giving children berries as part of their breakfast in the morning or tucked away in their lunch boxes could well help to boost their brain power when they are at school, especially during exam season.”



Fresh veg hitting TV screens soon!

ITV has announced that it is donating £2m of airtime to a national TV advertising campaign encouraging people, and particularly children, to eat more fruit and vegetables.

The campaign, which is being run in association with Veg Power, will be launched in January 2019 and aims to persuade viewers to see vegetables in a more positive light.

As part of its Feel Good initiative to inspire healthier diets and more exercise, ITV will donate £2m worth of airtime across its channels to the campaign.

The adverts will be funded by an alliance of food retailers, including Sainsbury’s, Morrisons, Lidl, Waitrose, Marks & Spencer and Iceland.

The Veg Power fund was set up by chef Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall to combat the increase in diet-related illnesses in the UK.

“We know that the power of TV can be used to shape culture and this new advertising campaign will really amplify the message that we all need to eat more veg by broadcasting to millions of viewers during ITV’s biggest programmes,” said ITV’s CEO Carolyn McCall.

Rosie Boycott, chair of the Veg Power board, said: “This is a unique opportunity for Veg Power, ITV, major brands and retailers to come together and make a meaningful difference across the nation.

“Working collaboratively to reach every corner of the UK with the aim to effect real change.”


Tesco-Carrefour alliance to start in October

Tesco and Carrefour have said they expect their buying alliance to become operational in October as the pair pursue better terms with suppliers in a bid to drive down prices.

The retailers plan to buy branded and own-brand products together, as well as other supplies such as trollies and shop fittings, as they look to face down rising competition in the grocery sector.

Adding to the pressure created by Amazon’s advance and the Aldi and Lidl’s growing market share, Sainsbury’s and Asda are now poised for a £15 billion merger that would displace Tesco as the UK’s largest grocery retailer.

Tesco has already taken steps to strengthen its supply chain through a £3.7bn takeover of wholesaler Booker and there are reports it is planning to launch a budget supermarket chain called Jack’s.

According to The Telegraph it is planning to open between 30 and 60 discount stores by as early as September this year.

The Tesco-Carrefour deal aims to cut the price of everyday items by 10 per cent, the newspaper reported.

It follows a similar collaboration between French chains Casino, Auchan and Schiever, and Germany’s Metro


Aldi ‘lowers brassica specs’ as heatwave continues

Aldi is dropping the weight of its pre-pack broccoli to support growers through the ongoing heatwave, it has been revealed.

The discounter is lowering the size of its pre-pack broccoli from 360g to 335g per head, while holding prices, an industry source said.

Other retailers are reported to be “sitting on the fence” about whether to take similar action on brassicas as the current drought conditions limit the size and other specifications of the crop.

Growers are asking their respective retail customers to drop the weight of pre-pack broccoli heads to 280g, the source reported, to help them manage their reduced volumes.

“Aldi is leading the way in the first step of support for British brassica growers,” the industry insider said.

Responding to warnings of serious shortages in a range of crops – most notably brassicas, onions, carrots, potatoes, peas, lettuce and a range of salad vegetables – Aldi, Morrisons and Tesco are reported to be reviewing the specifications for the produce they buy from growers.

Morrisons has relaxed its specifications on lettuce, cucumber, celery, herbs and peppers, while Tesco said it had made allowances on the size and appearance of several crops, including Cornish early potatoes, strawberries, apricots and iceberg lettuce.


Lidl to trial £1.50 produce boxes

Discounter becomes first supermarket to sell mixed boxes of cut-price, less visually appealing produce in move to drive down waste in store

Lidl is set to become the first supermarket to sell boxes of produce that no longer looks so visually appealing but is still perfectly good to eat in a bid to reduce in-store waste.

The ‘Too Good to Waste’ boxes, priced at £1.50 for approximately 5kg of mixed produce, will contain fruits and vegetables selected from Lidl shelves that may be discoloured, slightly overripe or closer to their use by date.

Unlike Asda and Morrisons’ ‘wonky veg’ boxes, which are assembled by suppliers to make use of out-of-spec produce, the boxes will be put together in store each morning by Lidl’s ‘Freshness Specialists’.

It is hoped they will encourage customers to buy fruit and vegetables they might otherwise have left on the shelf, as well as giving shoppers a better value option.

The trial is taking place across 122 Lidl stores and, if rolled out nationwide, it could help rescue 10,000 tonnes of surplus produce a year, Lidl said.

As part of fresh efforts to drive down food waste, the supermarket said it will also introduce additional price reductions on its fresh items that do contain best before and use by dates. This comes on top of a 30 per cent reduction already placed on items appraoching their best before and use by dates, giving customers the opportunity to make further savings on staple items.

Christian Härtnagel, chief of Lidl UK, said: “Food waste is one of the most important topics that our industry is facing, and one that we are fully committed to tackling. This is why in 2017 we set ourselves the ambitious target of reducing our food waste by 25 per cent across just three years.

“We’re proud that in just one year, our stores have managed to cut food waste by 13 per cent, however we recognise that there’s still a long way to go, to get where we need to be.

He added: “Proportionately, we sell the most fruit and veg in the sector, but we know from our data that fresh produce is one of the biggest contributors to food waste in stores, so we’re excited by the difference our ‘Too Good to Waste’ initiative will make.”

Lidl has underlined its target for cutting food waste by committing to the Sustainable Development Goal 12.3 target of a 50 per cent reduction by 2030.

Unlike most other UK supermarkets, the discounter has chosen not to include ‘Best Before’ dates on 90 per cent of its fruit and veg, encouraging customers to make common sense decisions about the fresh produce they buy.

One of the most significant steps taken by Lidl to reduce waste has been the rollout of its Feed It Back programme. Launched in January 2017, Lidl has worked in partnership with social platform Neighbourly to connect its stores with local charities and donate food that would otherwise have gone to waste.

The rollout across all Lidl stores, which number more than 710, is expected to complete imminently, the supermarket said.


Sizzling Summer Grocery Sales

Supermarket sales have grown at their fastest rate this year – up 3.6% – thanks to football fever and the prolonged hot weather, according to the latest grocery market share figures from Kantar Worldpanel published today for the 12 weeks to 15 July 2018.

Fraser McKevitt, head of retail and consumer insight at Kantar Worldpanel, comments: “England may not have won the World Cup – but its journey to the semi-finals not only helped to kickstart the summer, but supermarket sales to boot.

“Over the past month, football-frenzied customers visited supermarkets an extra 13 million times as they hurried to stock up on World Cup-viewing essentials, with alcohol in particular the stand-out winner. Christmas and Easter aside, the week that the England football team played both Colombia and Sweden saw more spent on alcohol than ever before – a colossal £287 million.”

With the hot and sunny weather showing no signs of letting up, al fresco dining has continued to tempt shoppers. Over the past month, sales of firelighters and fresh burgers rocketed by 47% and 30% as customers honed their barbecuing skills. Meanwhile, sun care products and painkillers were both in demand: sales of sun creams jumped by 38%, while nearly a third of all households picked up pain-killing tablets over the past month.
The warm weather has not only impacted what customers buy, but where they choose to buy their groceries from. Fraser McKevitt continues: “Over the past 12 weeks Co-op experienced growth of 6.4% – its highest recorded since October 2011 – as shoppers’ desire to maximise the sunshine encouraged them to shop more locally. The past month in particular saw a boost to the retailer’s popularity, with shoppers returning to Co-op stores on average a record 10.1 times.”

Asda saw sales jump 3.7% to post its strongest growth in more than five years, and it was the best performing of the big four for the first time since December 2014. Fraser McKevitt explains: “Buoyed by a sales increase of 9% to its core, standard own-label lines – which make up 40% of its sales – Asda held market share steady at 15.1%. The retailer also encouraged an additional 230,000 shoppers through its doors over the past 12 weeks.
“Morrisons posted strong growth of 2.9%, with a market share of 10.5%. Over the past 12 weeks the retailer’s premium line ‘The Best’ outperformed its cheaper own-label options, helping Morrisons to continue a run of growth stretching back to January 2017.”